I have quoted from Joan Chittister in my blog before. She writes evocatively about beauty and artmaking. The following is from “Thirst for Beauty, Thirst for Soul,” the essay that introduces the book Creation out of Clay: The Ceramic Art and Writings of Brother Thomas (Pucker Gallery, 1999):
Beauty . . . lifts life out of the anesthetizing effects of the pedestrian and gives us a reason for going on, for being, for ranging beyond our boundaries, for endeavoring always to be more than we are. It enables us to pause in time long enough to remember that some things are worth striving for, that some things are worth doing over and over again until they become their breathless selves, that some things are beyond our grasp yet within our reach. Beauty brings with it the realization in the midst of struggle, in the depths of darkness, in the throes of ugliness, that the best in life is, whatever the cost, really possible.
It is the artist’s task, then, to take us beyond the invisible to the height of consciousness, past the humdrum to the mystical, away from the expedient to the endlessly true. The artist shows us what we thought we could never, perhaps should never, see: the soul of a tree, the suffering of the helpless, the bowels of a color, the brilliance of a darkness that reveals the unconquerable light, a form without failing. The artist takes a piece of life and turns it inside out for us and, in the doing, turns us inside out over it, as well. We look at something for which we have no words and we ache for the voice that can make beauty tangible. We touch the beautiful and reframe our own vision of the world. We see something which we have looked at many times but never really seen before and find ourselves less alone in the universe because someone else has touched what we have touched, felt what we have felt, known what we have known. Then, we are never the same again because we have seen a rent in the fabric of eternity, gotten an insight into timelessness, come face to face with the ultimate. Then, we have seen a bit of the Beauty out of which beauty comes. . . .
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