“Any great art work ... revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world - the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.”
- Leonard Bernstein
Art and Brain Health
A potent revolution exists within claiming pleasure. Craving aesthetic beauty can be seen as frivolous and without feeling, but it's so much more layered than that. When we create beauty around us, we begin to challenge the status quo and I like to think with every beautiful touch, we leave a bit of magic in its wake. Design can be an incredible healer, colors able to calm and or activate the nervous system.
We literally have the power to transform our brain waves by what we create and surround ourselves with. There is increasing evidence in rehabilitation medicine and the field of neuroscience that art enhances brain function by impacting brain wave patterns, emotions, and the nervous system.
“Art can also aid in boosting our serotonin levels. Science has discovered that these amazing occurrences don't just come from making art, they also occur by experiencing art. Observing art can stimulate the creation of new neural pathways and ways of thinking.”
I get the chills every time I think about art creating new neural pathways, it fuels me with a want to create more and more to share with you.
There is a study that was conducted by the incredible Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London. Every time I read about it, it makes my heart skip beats. The participants underwent brain scans while being shown images of paintings by major artists. The study found that when people viewed the art they thought was most beautiful, blood flow increased by as much as 10% to the reign of the brain associated with pleasure — the equivalent to looking at a loved one.
Big breath in. How extraordinary is that?
Just gazing upon art created blood flow similar to that as gazing at a loved one. In this one study, there is evidence of just how powerful aesthetics and art truly are. So much more than just something looking beautiful, it is our way of crafting our very existence. Bringing elements into our world that make us feel from the depth of our souls.
More than Vanity
So often when we think of aesthetics we associate the concept with vanity. There is no escaping that at times the two coexist, but truly aesthetics exist in everything around us. From the natural world to the worlds we create within homes, work, and play.
Each of our perceptions of beauty is vastly different. This is where the various styles are born from. Bohemian, minimalist, ornate, modern, rustic, mid-century, industrial, and so on. Our personal pull to one or the other is based on the expressions that move us.
“In order to truly feel into any space or piece of art, we must engage all of our senses. This allows for the full form of pleasure and experience to form. We begin to notice more than we did with that initial glance. With our whole being activated we begin to see color and feel into the mood it evokes. Shapes become more crisp, patterns more clear, textures of fabrics in photography, or brush strokes on canvas made to be rough or velveteen soft.”
When I first designed my fine art photography sets I take every detail into consideration. I look at the patterns, colors, textures of the flower I am using, and find complementary elements to bring in. As I write this I can feel the linen in my hands, I can smell the delicate floral aromas. Set up is slow and methodical, with moments of pure surrender to the process and whatever chooses to come. Each set is unique in the mood and feeling it is working to bring to the surface.
Create an altar of beauty
It is such a gift to be on this creative adventure in life, and I am so grateful that you are on it with me.
Bring something beautiful into your space today. If it's picking some flowers on your walk, or making an altar of your favorite things, create something beautiful for yourself. You are so worthy of it all.