“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Beauty surrounds us, even in the smallest of details. When I stop to pay attention, the splendor of a vivid sunset, the joy of a father playing with his child, or the elegance of a carefully crafted sentence stir my soul. And yet culture tells me that meaningful art only comes from suffering and angst. As a writer, I’ve been encouraged to dig into the depths of my pain in order to write authentically; writing should feel like bleeding on the page in order to be profound. Certainly some of my most heartfelt writings have come from this place. However, this paradox has been difficult for me to reconcile: that beauty inspires me to create, and yet I’m told the hard and the ugly are the only things powerful enough to produce significant art. Since the source of my inspiration is reflected in what I create, what am I to do if I want to create both beautiful and significant art? As I consider the concept behind Emerge –the showcasing of the beautiful, hope-filled lives of survivors of domestic violence, rather than the tragic side of the issue– my perception of true inspiration begins to broaden. Suffering and difficulty may provide a desire to change, but showing a woman who is being abused the darker side of the issue doesn’t always help her to choose courage. At some level, this is no revelation to her because she lives it. Education of harsh realities serve a purpose, but the juxtaposition of beauty plays an important role in effecting change. Always showing the tragic and never conveying the hope leaves us in despair. Showing the beauty that may come, that could be in the future? That provides a hope that can inspire profound transformation. In my own art, I find this to be true as well. Beauty sets forth a different goal: it helps me explore who I want to become, rather than remaining fixated on what has created who I currently am. I do believe in honoring the journey that has brought me to this place. But that alone is not sufficient. Creating art that reflects beauty is profound vision-casting that can inspire others, giving them a reason to choose courage to become who we are designed to be.