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  • Writer's pictureJuliana Loomer

I Will Not Be Made Inhuman by Modern Culture.

Aren't you sick of ugliness? I am and I am trying to do something about it by making beautiful art. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Everyone seems so hell-bent on glorifying ugliness, but there is a bigger motivation at play in my heart.

For decades, edginess and controversy have falsely dominated creative culture. Darkness, rudeness, shock and awe and cruelty have been seen as the pinnacle of artistic expression. When you look around us, past the makeup and freshly painted walls, what do you see? Darkness, rudeness, shock and cruelty in our culture. While these elements certainly have their place in artistic expression especially if it is authentic, it's time to reconsider the value of beauty in our cultural output.

Art has always served as a mirror of our society, reflecting its values, struggles, and aspirations. Historically, art that celebrated beauty and conveyed warmth was central to human experience. From the calming landscapes of the Impressionists to the harmonious compositions of classical music, these works provided comfort, inspiration, and a sense of connection to the real and the beautiful. They were more than just aesthetically pleasing; they were emotionally enriching.

While pushing boundaries can spark important artistic or cultural conversations, the focus on shock value of art can sometimes overshadow the deeper purpose of art: to elevate the human spirit. Beauty, in its purest form, has a unique ability to transcend the mundane and enlighten the soul. It’s not merely about aesthetic appeal but about creating moments that connect us to something greater than ourselves. Beautiful art can evoke a sense of wonder, peace, or joy, offering a respite from the chaos of everyday life.

I used to try to make art that was realistic and haunting, a reflection of things past in my life, but in a way, I was constantly reliving what I wanted to leave behind and my life never seemed to change. When I started painting things I loved and things that made me smile and things that were beautiful, life finally changed. There is something in that.

Folk Arts by J.Loomer

Artists who try to glorify the most base of materials and experiences such as Chris Ofili's elephant poop creations that went for $2.3 million at Christie's or Tracy Emin's installation of all the crap scattered about her room (including tampons that sold for $2.2 million), are just insulting us and testing the limits of how much ugliness we will endure. When our culture begins to glorify beauty again, we will again see beauty pop up all around us.

Tracy Emin's work that sold for $2.2 million.

Consider the timeless allure of Renaissance paintings or the delicate intricacies of Japanese tea ceremonies. These art forms are not just visually stunning but also imbued with a sense of harmony and balance that resonates deeply with our human longing for order and peace. This then radiates out into culture.

Millions upon millions of people travel to places like Italy to see all the beauty of painting, sculpture, architecture and cuisine. Why? Because it is shocking and ugly? No. They want to be surrounded by the best of what man is capable of. To be reminded of the good of humanity. To be reminded of what man is capable of through creativity you can see, touch, taste and smell. That is what refreshes the human soul.

Cathedral ceiling in Rome.

Colorful inviting cuisine.

While edgy and controversial art can challenge the status quo and provoke thought, it has influenced our culture with the only goal of shocking and traumatizing people. When the primary goal of art becomes to frighten or offend, it creates barriers rather than bridges. People who are constantly exposed to shocking art forms tend to shift focus from shared human experience to self-indulgent and exclusionary expression, which again radiates out into culture.

Are we suprised by the cultures we see around us in 2024? The separation of different kinds of people? The nihilism in the youth? Movies today are dystopian, art soulless, Satanic imagery literally on every mainstream musician's stage, at least we can say we have hit rock bottom, or have we?

This constant exposure to controversy also leads to desensitization. What was once provocative becomes tragically mundane, pushing artists to further extremes to capture attention, further traumatizing and isolating people in society. This cycle makes null and void the impact of humanity, and our shared experience of humanity through of the arts.

Artists have a unique power to shape culture. By consciously incorporating elements of beauty and warmth into their work, they can offer a counterbalance to the pervasive inhuman tendencies of the modern world. Enjoying beauty is essential for the human soul, not some naive expression of peasants and the ignorant. (I'm looking at you art academics and gallery owners.)

By supporting art that emphasizes beauty, harmony and warmth, we can encourage a cultural shift. Attend exhibitions, concerts, and performances that celebrate these qualities and in turn, grown our culture in the reflection of these values. It is our only hope.

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