Ugly, Pretty, And Political Slogans

Is this ugly or beautiful? Painting in Guggenheim, Venice.

I am finally fully unpacked and close to sleeping with the rest of the west coast. I got up at 3 am and I consider this progress. During the last few days I realize it is easier to write when I am visiting fabulous museums and having daily adventures. Do I really need to hop back on a plane in order to write?

Thanks to Lynn B. from Arizona, there is no need for me to call US Air. She sent a link to this thought provoking video. Here, Roger Scruton, a philosopher and lover of beauty in art, architecture and music, believes we have lost our way by focusing on function before form and on the ugliness in life.

See UTube video: Why Beauty Matters Video By Roger Scruton.

Here is my point of view. What is yours?

Creativity and art is best when it emerges from the heart. If within I find chaos, fear, or other shadow-like qualities (often considered forbidden, worthless, or disgusting), then this is the energy from which my creativity readily springs. Judging, avoiding, or masking the energy into a more palatable form leads to missing the mark with our art. The same is true when we find peace, joy, love and other “good” energies within. It is not that one is beautiful and the other is not, it is a matter of authenticity. To burden ourselves with the expectation to create traditionally beautiful objects is limiting our potential, if not stifling it.

In my life as a psychotherapist, I have listened to many an aching heart. And angry hearts as well. The acknowledgment of dark feelings was transformative. Honest art also has the capacity to transform and elevate us. Honesty alone is not enough to make an object art – gotta have all those design and fabrication skills in place too.

If we are tempted to jump on the ugly wagon because it is fashionable, then others may consider our work to be art, but when asked to speak the truth, would we individually consider it art? I think not. It may be enterprise, misguided effort, or even humor, but it is not art. The same is true for jumping on the pretty wagon. If it’s not in the heart it isn’t art. Somehow that came out sounding like a political slogan. Oh my, it is that time of year…..


All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2012 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

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  1. Connie Fox

     /  October 15, 2012

    Ruth, I like your attitude. Sometimes other’s point of view is just that, theirs, and not very applicable to another person. One person’s “picky” is another person’s “great attention to detail”. Hmmm, would anyone ever call a surgeon, an electonics assembler, an airplace mechanic, or a pharmacist “picky”? You go girl!

  2. Ruth Redfern

     /  October 11, 2012

    Connie you have, since I have known you, always been able to get a chuckle from me. Thank you! This posting was no different. As to the question whether that painting was ugly or beautiful – it depends on how one looks at it………

    I’m often told I’m far too picky – I don’t agree. If something doesn’t *feel* good to me, it isn’t good and needs to be redone or dropped entirely. This attitude certainly hasn’t reduced my output, so guess it works for me!

  3. Connie Fox

     /  October 11, 2012

    Jeanie, I recall doing wire work (years ago)when I was on the phone with one of my domestic violence clients (offenders). Making jewelry helped to keep me calm and avoid screaming “You did what???!!!” It is wonderful how jewelry can help us achieve whatever kind of balance we need. Currently, as I begin study on Buddhism, my design bias clearly reflects this focus. Cheers to you, Jeanie and your beautiful jewerly. Would you like to post a few pics here so people see what you do?

  4. Hi Connie, This post and Roger Scruton have really got me thinking! I totally agree that art needs to come from the heart through skilled hands. My art world is involved with beautiful, whimsical delightful objects that lift my spirit. It is a counterbalance to the other parts of my life. However I like you, have worked with troubled souls in my “day job”. I can appreciate someone who can express a painful issue in an eloquent manner that communicates and educates rather than alienates the viewer. Selfishly, I don’t want to view angry art, even though it is authentic. I acknowledge there is another audience that appreciates it and as you stated the acknowledgment of dark feelings is transformative.
    As for wagons, that may be more for those who have received more formal training in art than I. For better or worse, I seem to have gone through life trotting along in my own little pony cart…

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