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Art vs. Function

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Connie Hozvicka recently wrote a post at Dirty Footprint Studios that is still resonating with me weeks later. It's called Why Artists are Important. Click on over and read it. Go ahead. I'll wait.

It was about here that she got me...
And I wondered when we stopped caring.

About details. About aesthetics. About building something that doesn't just last.

But brings beauty to our lives.

When did we stop caring?

I was fortunate enough to grow up near Washington, D.C. We visited periodically, seeing the sights, visiting the museums. The Lincoln Memorial was always my favorite monument and Air & Space my favorite museum, followed closely by the Natural History museum with it's central rotunda.

Walking around D.C. I was mesmerized by the beauty and heft of the buildings and monuments. (Yes, even at that young age I saw something wondrous about all of it.) I could not understand how something so grand could have been built long before modern tools and equipment.

When I first visited Rome as an adult, I had the same thought. I marveled at all of the intricate details adorning their buildings. Structures built long before D.C.

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Certainly all of those statues of saints or depictions of history or ornate designs weren't necessary. They weren't functional. They were added for beauty, for meaning.

Does that mean the buildings themselves weren't functional? Absolutely not. They were built for a purpose, served their purpose, and did so beautifully.

These days art is treated as ancillary. Nice, but necessary. When school budgets are cut, the arts are, too.

There seems to be a perception that creativity is not needed. I disagree. I think creativity is vital. Creative thinking sparks new ways of doing things.

Art, in all its varieties, moves people. It sparks an emotional connection. It makes us want to do more, to be more.

Have you ever been moved by a calculator? I didn't think so.

Yet, logic and function absolutely have their place, too.

Would you give up your calculator? I didn't think so.

Function and beauty. We need both. It's all of those details combined that make life special.

What do you think?


  1. Your mention of school and the arts reminds me that schools themselves used to have beauty. I won't bore you with the pain of our neighborhood over the new middle school they built amongst our 1920s homes. It's a disgusting piece of architecture. Not only does it not fit the neighborhood, they built it with zero green space. Where I live the grade school architecture was quite distinctive because they were built in the early part of the century by people who cared about design. They're slowly disappearing.


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