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smalina's picture

"Human beauty is a relationship" (Lehrer 3).

I am always struck by the power of Riva's work, and I'm brought back to a conversation we had with a teaching artist one of the first times we visited the center--the fiber arts teacher expressed her satisfaction with a piece that a participant was working on, describing the unconventional, long stitching pattern and insisting that one of the most exciting parts of working there was that the artists are generally not caught up in "making things beautiful." Here, it was clear that she used "beautiful" in reference to that which is appealing to the normative eye. But as Riva explains, "it comes down to the fact that we think well of pretty people because they feel good in our brains" (Lehrer 5). Society at large has been trained to have actual, pleasurable neurological responses to seeing things that are conventionally beautiful--but what about people who have, on the basis of difference, been pushed to the fringes of society? Of course, popular media reaches everyone, and the artists at the center certainly have exposure to plenty of images of conventional beauty--but priorities feel different when I'm there each week. I don't worry so much about what I'm wearing--not because I don't care about the people with whom I'm about to interact, but because I know that the artists don't care, and would much rather make art and talk with me. I feel an overwhelming sense that the parts of life that I do really consider most important (relationship building and self expression, primarily) are a shared top priority among the artists who come to the center every day. 

It is precisely this artist's abandoning of conventional beauty expectations that makes some of the work at the center so beautiful for the fiber arts teacher, and I'd have to agree. The beauty is found, as Riva expresses, in the relationship--the art becomes not just an attempt at reproducing what society wants to see, but a true, pure externalization of an internal feeling or identity. It is not a product, but a process, a living thing in itself. 


pbernal's picture


I really like your last sentence in that "beauty is found in the relationship in which art becomes as a true, pure externalization of an internal feeling or identity, not a product but a process." There is something so captivating and mesmorizing in watching beauty being created or even exploring the dimensions, edges, and structures of anything that captivates our eye. I also find this sense of serenity in creating and watching the process of something beautiful being created, I think it helps in forming a bond/relationship/connection with the creation. 

I am interested in the connection and process of individuals using paint to create something on a canvas or anything with no brushes. I think it'll allow for individuals feeling the texture and being one with what they're creating. 

Kristin's picture

As I'm thinking about how to describe the course, the CCW partnership, the connections between science and art, and the art being made at CCW I'm drawn to organic metaphors and ways of thinking about how all of these things grow and evolve. So:  I love your final sentence here: "It is not a product, but a process, a living thing in itself."