Posts Tagged ‘Beauty Our Mandate’

Art is Life

December 20, 2009

The same theme ran through my university studies in art, design and humanities.  No matter what the medium, all works of art have common principles that are inherently a part of each work.  It matters not whether the work is a painting, a sculpture, a musical composition, a play, a novel, or a short story.  The principles are the same. 

 St. Thomas Aquinas said that works of art have these principles, no matter what the format.  He said, “Each must have, “integrity [wholeness], symmetry and radiance.” Most critics of the arts have agreed that in order to be “a work of art”, each individual piece must have a combination of balance, repetition, harmony, unity and emphasis.  If the piece described is a work of art, it implies beauty inherent in its constitution.  If we allow for differences in culture, art has always been an expression of, or an emotional response to beauty.  So I thought, what would happen if these principles were held as a framework for my own life? If these principles of balance, repetition, unity and so forth were held up by me for my own life, would beauty be evident?  How would these principles apply to me as I made my daily choices?  Would the body of my works be thought of as “good” to those who observed me in action?

Some of you might already be thinking how this might be lived out in the flesh.  It needn’t be grandiose.  I know of a young lady who thought it might be nice it would be to buy her mother who lived in Florida a book of citrus recipes since she had just planted citrus trees.  Now this was not as simple as it sounds, for she could not find one in stock in her community, so she went to the next town and ordered one.  Now I cannot tell you how delighted her mother was to (eventually) receive this gift, but perhaps you will begin to understand as I tell you that the mother in turn searched her mid-size Florida town and eventually went on to the next city and searched until she found what she deemed a fitting thank you card of a watercolor print card of a citrus tree on which she wrote a personal note of thanks which began, “Dearest…”.

Beauty begets beauty.  It took vision, not just seeing, on the first woman’s part, and then in-kind action followed by the inspired recipient. For both it took a little more time to see the creative connection between the planting of the citrus tree, the cookbook purchase, and the resultant watercolor thank you card. Both parties were willing to go beyond the ordinary and the results were extraordinarily lovely.