BA (Sociology), BA (Art History) BFA (Painting), MFA (Painting)
University of Miami (FL)


Beauty, Quality, and the Good: Art as a Material Reflection of a Spiritual Reality

Art is an implicit, intuitive, metaphorical, spirit-enhancing sensory experience that nurtures the soul and drives life’s evolutionary arrow forward. Tragically, art is rapidly disappearing from our contemporary cultural landscape. Its status as a keystone of cultural coherence is being diminished by hyper-rational, materialistic, technology obsessed, pop-culture attitudes that are leveling our cultural aspirations and dulling and diluting our aesthetic sensibilities.

The most troubling take-away from the quartet of hyper-rationalism, materialistic consumerism, de-contextualizing dependence on technology, and the bizarrely influential subversive ravings of the sophomoric trickster, Marcel Duchamp, is that they distract us from soul expanding engagement with the phenomenal world thereby condemning our ineffable spiritual aspirations and uplifting poetic impulses to the cheerless gloom of quotidian necessity.

In such a deskilled and dematerialized environment, the urgent question facing us then is whether there is a way forward that can revive and restore humanity’s faith in and appreciation for the life-affirming experience of sensuous knowing that is unique in its ability to provide a pathway to the ineffable wonders and sublime mysteries of life. Fortunately, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes.”

Such a restorative strategy develops naturally from studio art instruction when it is structured to encourage us to look intensely, to seek meaning in experience, and to pursue a state of complete awareness of the physical world of which we are a part. After all, art is rooted in the importance of implicit meaning and metaphor, in direct sensory experiences, in embodied emotional reactions, in intuitions, and in a sense of wonder about our ever changing, soul enhancing connection to the phenomenal world. Studio practice, when approached with this fundamental reverence for intuitive modes of knowing, serves as a conduit that connects us to a world much broader and deeper than ourselves, to the soul of the human experience, to direct contact with the “is-ness,” of the phenomenal world. It is this universally shared, embodied emotional awareness that we are referencing when we speak of the Sublime, the Infinite, the Eternal, the Divine, the Good, Quality, Beauty, Love, Unity, Truth, Excellence, Value, and Virtue.


About Brian

Brian Curtis currently holds the position of associate professor of drawing and painting at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. He wrote, designed, illustrated, and produced an introductory perceptual drawing text, Drawing from Observation (2010).

Throughout most of Brian’s painting career he has focused on psycho-mythological figurative narratives that explore the transitional, tentative moments occurring between times of purposeful human activity. In an age that is often categorized as being in a perpetual state of crisis, he seeks, by monumentalizing the ordinary, to encourage the viewer to concentrate on the richness and celebrate the importance of direct perceptual experience.