Why Create Beautiful Things?
What in our nature draws us to the beautiful aesthetic?
People travel great distances from their native lands to visit natural wonders, architecture, sculptures and paintings. In fact, it was one of the main reasons why I visited Rome; To see beautiful works of art. While waiting to see the Sistine Chapel I overheard a comment from a fellow patron, “Just think of how many poor people could have been fed with the amount of money they spent on art.” Why would the church spend money on art when there are other, arguably, more noble needs? Could it be that Pope Julius II, of whom commissioned the works by Michelangelo, understood that nourishment of the soul was just as vital as nourishment of the body?
Although, yes, people could have been fed food with that money, what could tell the story better than dramatically beautiful works of art? Was a picture worth a thousand words? Do people need to see something beautiful to be inspired, to understand a story, or to simply feel better? Is that a meaningful enough goal for creating works of art? Is a goal, beyond the desire to create, even needed at all?
In my view, in our higher nature, when humanity is at its' best, when we are our best selves, there is a hunger and a thirst to satisfy the soul with the beautiful aesthetic. Where a community is created by sharing in what is beautiful and the sharing of beautiful things with others is instinctual, primal if you will. In that moment of communal appreciation, a meaningful experience is shared. One deeper than quenching thirst or satisfying hunger. One that feeds the soul. Perhaps the desire to share and appreciate beauty is connected to our spirits by grand design.
People gather at the beach for sunsets, share "ooohs" and "ahhhs" at the sight of fireworks, enjoy the fragrance of flowers together in public gardens, and stand in awe elbow to elbow staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This sharing is more than a coincidence. It is human nature. We crave to experience and share what is beautiful and allow it to feed our souls. It is a catalyst to affirm the grandness of life with each other. To look beyond our physical body and peer into our spirit. We need beauty to fully experience life, to affirm our awareness and ultimately our existence. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and it is a part of our spiritual DNA. It is who we are, and when we see what is beautiful, it is the singing and dancing of our visual perception of our lives, and the world.
If beauty and art are truly luxuries of life, and not a necessity for our spirit, I leave you with this thought:
“Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.”
—Frank Lloyd Wright