Have you ever seen a person, place, or thing that took your breath away? There is much truth in the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Numerous industries survive on this basic principle; from cosmetics, to fashion, to automobiles to most visually based merchandise we have our own opinion of what is beautiful. However beauty should not be regulated to visual only; we have all heard music that stirs our souls with beautiful melodic sounds.

Red Autumn Tree          (public domain)
Red Autumn Tree (public domain)

This past autumn was one of the most beautiful that I have seen in years. I remember as a child walking with my mom through our neighborhood park on Chicago’s west side on a peak autumn day. We collected leaves of each color but my favorites were those in the vibrant hues of red and orange. A few weeks ago I saw vibrant red leaves like the ones I collected as a child. Beauty is often connected to an experience that stirs up a positive emotion or memory. Regardless of culture most humans can agree on beauty within nature from autumn leaves to an evening sunset. However physical beauty varies from culture to culture and I will not even attempt to touch on culturally defined beauty.

When it comes to visual art such as paintings or sculptures we tend to agree more easily on what is appealing. Yet, if two people are looking at a Jackson Pollock abstract there will most likely be two distinct opinions. It is difficult to see the same things in abstract art. One of the first artist that I liked as a child was Georgia O’Keeffe, specifically her paintings from the Cloud series I found joyful. Having access to the Art Institute of Chicago during my formative years clearly defined my taste in visual art. Ancient art to modern art I am inspired by it all, from beauty among the broken shards of a vase dating back to 400 B.C. to Tiffany designed stained glass windows. Recently looking at designs from African Fashion Week I saw items I liked and others that I did not find aesthetically appealing. Fashion is one of those industries that is driven by cultural identity and hence culturally defined beauty. With that said there are designs from U.S. Fall Fashion Week that I adore and others I think are horrendous but as is said “to each his own”.

Sky Above Clouds IV by Georgia O'Keeffe (c) 1965 displayed in Art Institute of Chicago
Sky Above Clouds IV by Georgia O’Keeffe (c) 1965 displayed in Art Institute of Chicago

Beauty is a topic that requires more than one blog post to define or discuss. We all have our perception of what we find beautiful. Some of the most interesting photo blogs capture beauty in unusual ways, from ordinary things the lens can capture a moment of beauty. Amazingly we have enough of the same idea of beauty to have off the rack clothing stores and general merchandise for our homes. Though sadly sometimes we can turn beauty into ugliness when trying to attain perfection. Too much cosmetics or plastic surgery can lead to the opposite effect of what we are seeking. It takes time even for nature to create the most beautiful landscape. If we break down the aesthetic of what we think is beautiful we might be surprised by what we find. We must remember that even within something beautiful there is often imperfections.


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