Monday, June 18, 2012

On Art Appreciation

Before I get into anything else, allow me to have a fangirl moment over the fact that my best friend went to the Philadelphia Trans* Health Conference in early June, bought a shirt from Legalize Trans*, and got the guys from one of my favorite trans*-related blogs (Art of Transliness) to sign it:

Anyway.  To what I wanted to write about.

Yesterday, I went to an exhibit in San Francisco called The Cult of Beauty, showcasing the Victorian Aesthetic movement in the arts, interior design, and fashion.  In a rebellion against all convention, the Aesthetes celebrated art for its own sake, incorporated both Greco-Roman and Japanese culture, and the beauty of the natural female form*.

As I wandered through the exhibition, I was genuinely overwhelmed at times.  There was so much beauty in that space that I felt like I would have a seizure and collapse, foaming at the mouth. (Upon telling my mom this, she said "I hope that doesn't happen.  You'd hit your head.")

It's something of a personal failing of mine that I don't always stop to appreciate the beautiful.  In going through the exhibit, I would sometimes make myself stop and appreciate all the details of the piece, because otherwise I would just breeze through everything to spare my senses.  It's easier on one's brain to not take in the detailing of a painting made with so much skill that it looks like a photograph, the elegant curves in a wardrobe, the vibrant colors and elaborate molding of rooms designed by artists.  But I feel like I had a better experience because I forced myself to take in all of that beauty.  I couldn't avoid it to make my brain less spinny.

I'm not a visual arts student.  I can't critically analyze a painting very well.  But I can look at a beautiful painting and value it for the time and love the artist put into it.  Sometimes it boggles my brain and I feel like I should be collapsing.  Sometimes I get troubled by the way artists put women on pedestals.  But when presented with amazing work like what I saw at The Cult of Beauty, I know it's going to be okay.  Because we have beauty in this world, something to keep us smiling even when times are hard.

*Aesthetic fashion rejected the corset and other figure-modifying undergarments.

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