A friend I had not seen in several years walked into my office stopping to “take it in.” Noticing the light, the art, the colors etc., he said, “You still have the soul of an artist.” Then he proceeded to ask me about my desk that is made out of angle iron, metal roof pan and glass. He also asked about where I got the idea to hang a bicycle as “art” on my wall and my choice to rely primarily on natural light.
As we spoke about each of these choices, we both knew we were appreciating not only the choices but also the importance that well designed environments provide to the work that we as people do.
In many ways, the environments we create affect the work we produce; and while this is not always true, I have noticed that even in the slums of Soweto, there are those that care for and attempt to provide the most beautiful and soul-inspiring environment that they can.
I have worked with a ton of people over the years, and to a person, I could intuit their ability to produce beauty by the beauty they made out of the space they were given. My desk has seasons of fury, but generally I seek to de-clutter and provide symmetry and order. The people who make beauty out of the space they are given simultaneously create a space to make beauty.
My wife works, cares for four kids, two dogs and a cat as well as volunteers as a Navigator for youth, and yet, she still orders our home, cleans, mows (yes, mows) and creates a space of beauty because her soul, our souls, need it.
Sometimes we confuse those that are naturally gifted to produce art with those who through ferocious discipline hewn a space in their life to produce beauty. The one is a gifted individual who can perform through natural abilities but may lack the soul-yearning compulsion that demands discipline, while the other may lack the natural giftedness of ability but has a soul compulsion that demands they carve out a nook, a space and veranda of beauty through which to experience the world. When both are true, then you get true and transcendent beauty.