I am living in a place of extraordinary natural beauty. This may be the reason so many artists choose to live here. I think human beings seek beauty in the world around them and some are compelled to create their own version in paintings, literature, dance and even everyday objects.
This sculpture is outside a small manufacturing business not far from my home. It is the perfect example of our need to create. This is an industrial business. Its clients do not come because they drive by a sculpture on a little traveled local road. This is clearly a creation by people who enjoy and are proud of what they do.
As part of remodeling my new home, I am having a wall of bookcases built. The other day when I stopped by to see the progress, the woodworkers asked me if they could create a decorative molding to add to the front. I said of course and told them I had planned to write about the desire to artistically enhance the world we live in. To them, adding the molding was a chance to use their skills as artisans, not merely follow a construction diagram. They are creating bookcases as visually attractive as they are functional, which I hope will last for generations.
Many years ago, my former sister-in-law, who was a graphic designer, told me she thought her work was frivolous. She may have been comparing herself to my work as an educator or my brother’s as an attorney, but I was dismayed. On the contrary, I told her, I was envious of her talent and ability to create beauty in our everyday world. I had just been to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC to see an exhibit of objects from the Ice Age. The thing that struck me the most, I told her, was how many were decorated. Perhaps it was a universal desire to create something beautiful, perhaps a way to say, “this is mine.” Although they had no way of knowing it would endure for tens of thousands of years, perhaps they were intentionally creating a legacy.
I have always been in awe of artists. I consider myself to be a creative leader and I know I have Influenced the lives of students and colleagues. But I do not have the ability to enhance our lives with beautiful things. I am grateful that others do.