Character Corner: Creating and Appreciating Beauty — musings, quotes, and parenting tips from


Lora is a middle school art teacher in Seattle, Washington.  Her students have been brought up to see art as a form of self expression, which Lora values.  But she also wants them to understand that historically around the world, people have valued another dimension of art:  the craft of creating beauty.


She finds herself struggling to put words on why this craft is so cherished, how our artistic sense works, and the role it plays in society.

What is beauty?

Although standards and norms of beauty vary widely from culture to culture, the quest for beauty is a human universal, and those who create beauty give a gift to the rest of us.  Beauty evokes a sense of delight and wonder, so creating beauty brings delight and wonder into the world. Though we are all different in terms of what we experience as beautiful and how we respond, those who seek to create beauty find others who appreciate their efforts.

Beauty can soothe pain, comfort sorrow, distract from illness, or inspire hope and virtue in those who experience it. It is very closely tied to our sense of spirituality, our sense of being a small part of a greater whole.  In these ways, it is tremendously powerful.  By creating beauty exercise this power.

Five Quotes to contemplate discuss and share.

You say that in heaven there is eternal beauty. The eternal beauty is here and now, not in heaven.

What if imagination and art are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience?
–Rollo May

You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you.
–Joseph Joubet

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
–Joseph Addison

Let the beauty we love be what we do; there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Bringing it home to your kids

  1. Expose your children young to natural beauty and to the arts.  Talk with them about the feelings these inspire, both in you and in them.  Explore the various roles of art:  self expression, communication,  exploration of ourselves and our society and, of course, simply creating beauty.
  2. Call attention to visual details whether in public places, at home, or in a forest.  Take the time together to notice the world rather than simply hurrying through it.
  3. Stockpile craft supplies—paints, paper, scraps of interesting packaging or fabric, old magazines: tools your children can use creating pictures, collages and projects of their own.
  4. Don’t hide the fact that that you enjoy some of their creations better than others.  Not all of our experiments have the desired effects.
  5. Find small ways that your children can participate in creating or maintaining the beauty of your community: plant flowers together along the sidewalk, pick up litter in a park, join neighbors in restoring a greenbelt.
  6. Don’t worry if your child’s sense of aesthetics is different than yours.  Pink frills?  Jungle themes?  The important thing is that they develop a sense of satisfaction in creating beauty.  Their tastes will change.

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