Beauty and the Senses Group Guide

Volume VI, Number I

Artwork by Amy Liu

Beauty is most often associated with our sense of sight. But as this theme’s PerSpectives contributor Frank Fitzpatrick so aptly writes, “Those qualities we aspire to most . . . exist in the realm of the Unseen.” In our Beauty and the Senses issue, KidSpirit contributors venture far beyond the visual to explore beauty in travel and thought, in song and the sublime. Join us for an exciting exploration!

1. Is there one, unchanging attribute that defines beauty? Can things some people label ugly be beautiful to others? These are the big philosophical questions underlying Nimai Agarwal’s Big Question and Akash Mehta’s review of Ugly. After examining different works of art, music, books, even the interior of fast food restaurants, the two writers come to different conclusions. Nimai argues that love is the essence of beauty, while Akash hesitates to say that we can definitively call anything ugly or beautiful. Read the two essays and discuss. What do you call beautiful? Ugly? Can something abstract like love be at the heart of those concepts?

2. In her feature article, Elly Goetz reflects on the sublime in painting and in her own art. On a trip to Yellowstone, she follows in the footsteps of painter Thomas Moran and even paints from the same vantage point as Moran’s famous image of the canyon. After reading about the feeling of the sublime that Elly describes, try your hand at creating a drawing, painting or poem to elicit the same powerful emotions. How do you feel when creating art, poetry or music? How does the art of your peers affect you? Do you agree with Elly that it is difficult in this age of media saturation to feel the same awe in response to Art that people did in the past?

3. Sharon Lin’s feature, "The Flaws of Frail," unpacks the media’s role in creating and perpetuating unrealistic, unhealthy body image expectations. Do you experience ways in which the mainstream media limits or shapes your view of what is beautiful? If so, is it possible to counteract the messages that you see? Share your experiences and brainstorm ways to recognize unhealthy portrayals of beauty around you.