There’s art all around us though not many people choose to look for it on a day to day basis. We pass by all sorts of things that can be considered either natural art or human made art and most of the time we don’t even notice! We just think of these pieces of art as something this purely utilitarian or something that is just there in nature and always has been. We think of the world as natural, immutable and something that is just there and will never be any different but this is a very reductive and simple way of looking at the world. Say, for example, you are walking down the street and you miss the way the sunshine lands and bounces off the hood of a car. Maybe your mind is on other things or maybe you just aren’t looking so you miss it. Maybe it produces a slightly new color you haven’t seen before and so you don’t even register it even if you should. This is beauty, obviously, and art but it is also completely natural. It serves no greater purpose as does most of the way physics works. This is true but just because that’s the way it is doesn’t mean that’s the way you have to interpret it. We miss so much wonderful beauty and art in the world simply because we aren’t looking for it in the right places. That or we desperately want to seek it so we create something else entirely while truly natural or human made beauty is starting at us in the face. You might ask yourself, where am I going to find this beauty if I really start looking? How do I find it and is there ever one or two right places to look so you can really get a good sense of it? The answers to these questions all exist but they are complicated and nuanced. Let’s look at a few examples to see what we can find.
The Church Steeple and the Idea of Art
Churches are one of our older social and emotional institutions so it makes sense we would start there in order to find the beauty that we are looking for. This might sound like a religious quest at first and it certainly can be! If you would like. Religions are beautiful things and so they incorporate a whole host of good ideas and good art into themselves. Whether it be through church pews, church steeple design, antique church pews, church steeples history or anything to do with religious expression, religion has always been a way for humans to express themselves in a healthy and emotional way. But even if you are not religious, it is easy to appreciate the simple beauty of the church in its all forms, whether through the church steeple, pews, or otherwise. There are certainly more complicated churches, if that is your thing. Not all churches are simple affairs. Some are huge and complicated and intricate, physical odes to religious figures and icons. This can be beautiful on its own but there are other types of churches too, the smaller and simpler ones. There is beauty in these simple designs and you might even see that beauty for a moment while driving to work. You just have to stop and look.
We’ve looked at the church steeple and religious architecture but we haven’t yet looked at more organic and natural architecture. Now, you might say that architecture by its very definition can’t be natural because it implies a construction of human origin. And, by that strictest definition, you’d be right. But trees, for example, are wonderful pieces of upright architecture that are completely natural. They grow, they build and some stand tall as any building that humans erect in towns or cities. We tend to think of something like a church steeple as a big human made object that nature couldn’t possibly build but nature doesn’t mess around when it comes to building big free standing structures. Mountains, for one, or sequoia trees, for another. These large monolithic structures are beautiful and they are the most natural thing you can see.