Blue Notes #1: A tour of my art studio!
If my brain exploded, it would look like this room
I’ve been wondering about what makes you feel at home in the world. Yes, you! Everyone! What’s something that the world consistently provides that cuts through chaos and bad days, reignites the thrill of getting to visit this planet for a blip?
What theme do you appreciate, notice, value, offer, and cultivate?
Here are some my friends have mentioned:
It’s a theme that gives you a sense of belonging wherever you are. And it’s the answer to why we are motivated by a goal that another person isn’t interested in, or why we’d save up our money for a purchase that someone else might think is silly or unnecessary.
For me, that purchase is a bright blue hand-painted Tuscan floor tile that was rescued from an estate that was going to be cleared out and renovated.
For others, it’s a watch. Or speakers. Or basically anything that’s actually functional.
My theme is beauty. I’m always on the lookout for it, even in the bleakest of environments. As I’ve written before, one of my walking-around-New-York rituals is to announce, “I’m available for beauty!” when I’m in an ugly area of the city (the flower beds in midtown really have their work cut out for them).
I seek out, acknowledge, thirst for, and collect beauty. When I see it and name it, I feel safe and at home in my own life. Oh okay, this world is for me too, I conclude.
So when I moved into my new apartment and had (for the first time!) my own office and studio space, my priority was filling it with beauty. Beauty means something very specific to me; I think about the John O’Donohue interview with Krista Tippett, which includes this interaction:
Tippett: It was actually in your book that I first realized, and I had never thought about this, that the root — the Greek root for the word “beauty” is related to the word for “calling”; to “kalon” and “kalein.”
O’Donohue: It means that, actually, in the presence of beauty, it’s not a neutral thing, but it’s actually calling you. And I feel that one could write a wonderful psychology just based on the notion of being called — being called to be yourself and called to transfigure what has hardened or got wounded within you.
I love that definition, particularly because I’m drawn to beauty that doesn’t translate well to photos, and beauty that can never be glamorous. I like sloppy paints, oversized ceramics, aggressively-darling lampshades. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me.
So here is a tour of the room that is only for me, decorated with things that I find beautiful.
Below, I’ll share photos that I narrate through audio snippets. Pretend you’re at a museum and they just handed you one of those bulky audio sets where the headphones never quite fit so you have to hold them up to your ears the whole time…except much less cumbersome!