14 Mar

Art as the Antidote

We are in an unusually politicized period of history where news is almost always bad and elected officials often sow divisiveness rather than solve problems. A recent editorial in the New York Times suggests that art can relieve some of this stress, offering beauty even in an ugly world.

Thanks to my cousin Jonathan I made sure to read the piece by David Brooks, in which he reminds us that art can take us to a deeper realm, the place where morals and emotions evolve. Getting lost in music, a painting, or a book can, to use an cliched phrase, soothe the savage beast – and perhaps help us find common ground. Brooks believes beautiful art serves three important functions.

First, it makes us stop being self-centered for a while, and to really pay attention. Art helps us expand our emotional repertoire through new experiences. Through a poem, a sculpture, or a symphony, we can share what the artist felt. This ability to understand others’ emotions is a valuable skill indeed. Finally, art helps us perceive the world through artists’ eyes, who may see and feel more deeply. It was interesting to read this take on art, as I’ve always felt that art can change us, move us, and even heal us.

Whether a song, a painting, or a novel, I’m not interested unless it makes me feel something. As I often explain, my purpose in painting is to show what made me stop in my tracks and say “wow.” I want to share how it felt to be there, as in this painting of Mont Saint Michel. We had climbed the ramparts to the cathedral and arrived just in time to hear the noon bells rung by a monk swinging joyously on a thick rope that hung from a great height. Stained glass windows lit the scene. My sense of awe and inspiration is what I wanted to convey.


  1. Hi Beth, as always, I love your post and your painting! This article sounds very interesting – will try to access it if I can. As someone who deeply appreciates art but has no talent for making art, I can relate to what you’ve said here. Keep up your wonderful work!

  2. Beth, you conveyed that Mt St Michel experience beautifully. Got it immediately. Thanks.

  3. I thought I could upload a little video here, but alas, can’t, so it’s coming traditionally to you (email).

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