I recently went on a walk through a park near where I live, and I just took a few moments along the walk to pay attention to the shadows. I took some pictures and I recorded some of the movement in the shadows. It’s not often that I get a chance to notice fleeting moments or the simplicity of shadows and light. As an artist and teacher, I think it’s really important to identify different types of beauty so that I can decide what I like to look at and figure out what is aesthetically pleasing to me.
“Wait,” you’re thinking, “aesthetics? What does that even mean?” Well just think of aesthetics as a way we all define what we like. It’s basically the appreciating of what is beautiful. The hard part is deciding what beauty means.
Have you ever heard the term “wabi-sabi“? This term can mean a lot of things, but mostly it’s finding beauty in imperfection. So it’s the philosophy, or the idea, that there is beauty in things that aren’t perfect. It’s about finding beauty in things that are asymmetrical (lopsided), have some kind of irregularity (rust or cracks), or are impermanent (meaning they don’t last). It’s a reminder that things aren’t always in our control and we can choose to accept things just as they are.
Wabi-sabi is practiced in a lot of different art forms, particularly in photography. However, I challenge you to find examples of wabi-sabi aesthetics in your life. Maybe it’s a pattern on the wall you see, the way someone pours the milk into their cereal, or even the woosh of a door as it opens. Finding these wabi-sabi moments can allow you to find beauty in the most unsuspecting places and allow us to let go of the idea of what perfection really is.