Mandatory Beauty by Amaranta Korngold

Every semester in CW, we are required to attend a minimum of two Art Saturdays to meet department requirements. As the obligation went, and as my curiosity was piqued, I was ready for my weekend homework.

After arriving at Fort Mason and awaiting the arrival of those distinctive and familiar silhouettes, we entered a spacious, red bannered warehouse that held within it a truly unimaginable amount of wealth. Pre art walk we, as a department, had been told that this was a must see, an art fair that Art and Film had never been able to gain access to, with limited availability. So, sure, why not?

Creative writing is not something most would refer to as a visual or performing art. We are not required to draw or paint well, but we are constantly improving our analytical skills. Writing is an art of back and forth inspiration, invention and practice. We are always told “reading is transitional,” and this is true when viewing any piece of art with a critical eye. Together, you and the art are sharing something, doing a group project on meaning and learning.

Walking into the Art Fair, I was met by immediate sensory overload, but upon walking down all the narrow alleyways of varyingly lit creations and filled canvases, I was lost –in a non negative connotational way. I’d wandered into the thoughts and feelings of strangers, doubly intensified by the knowledge that these pieces were considered “the best of the best;” and within that, I found freedom. It was a comparison of size, and I knew that my opinion really only mattered to me. So I could truly think anything I wanted about the art. 

This mindset did not immediately turn everything negative. On the contrary, the worth of the art was placed not in monetary terms, but in my own experiences, more wonder filled and less filtered by superimposed “greatness”. I would look at a piece, notice whatever thoughts or feelings immediately popped up, and let them free flow until I felt ready to move on. If a piece caught my eye, I would ask myself “How come?” and look over the details until I could name it, or, in some cases, couldn’t.

Two hours passed, and the only ones who noticed were my feet, slowly getting worn out by the constant pacing. An admittedly obsessive compulsive part of my brain felt incomplete without seeing every single piece on display, but I also attribute this to me genuinely enjoying being surrounded and overwhelmed by art. After getting picked up from the event, and for the remainder of that day, I would look out the window and think “What an interesting composition” or wonder “What’s the symbolism behind that topiary?”, still trying to analyze the juxtaposition of Victorian and ultra-modern houses separated by maybe a few inches of space, and what that was supposed to mean.

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