The Art of Awe

We recently talked about the Arts which consisted of french artists, musicians, and authors, in French class, and my french teacher brought up the question, “Have you ever truly been in awe?” I thought about it. Have I seen nice things? Yes, I have. But I never experienced the feeling of the utmost awe or wonder; I have never been in the presence of a truly awe-inspiring piece of art. I have been impressed by things I have seen in science museums, and art museums in the place we call home. But I have only seen pictures of those pieces of art that people have deemed to be the most jaw-dropping, thought-provoking, and to have deep meanings that scholars have worked countless hours trying to decipher. Would I love to see those things? Of course, one day.

But what does it mean to be in awe? What are we supposed to think when looking at Mona Lisa or a Van Gogh? What about when looking at architecture? Or listening to a classic piece of music or when watching a play? I am not going to go into scientific mode but rather talk about what awe means to me. I think classics are awe-inspiring, of course, people have been talking about the Sistine Chapel for years. Do I get the deep meaning of the most famous paintings or sculptures? No, not always.

In the summer my Mom and I went to see a production of The Wizard of Oz at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. I had never really seen a professional stage rendition of this story and for me; it may have been one the most awe-inspiring things I have seen thus far, but did I feel awe? No, I simply enjoyed the play, and the songs and the story.

So how do you know when you feel awe? Someone in my class said, you might feel a bit insignificant, and that makes sense. Most of us don’t know what da Vinci was thinking, or Picasso, or Rodin, or Michelangelo, and when we look at their art, we may feel like it is so much bigger than us. But that is the thing; I believe we are all capable of creating our own awe.

It may be the simplest things that we find awe-inspiring. I don’t think it always has to be something that has been created in the past or has religious associations with it. It could even be something you paint or write, something you are proud to call your own. The Art of Awe for me isn’t always going to be about going to see those wonderful masterpieces, because to be truthful, I might never get there, but to know that there is awe all around me and if I look at things in different views then just, oh that’s there, and that’s nice I might see things that influence the way I think and feel.

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Awe

  1. langc6530 says:

    I may be taking this thought in the wrong direction, but what really is awe? Is it just a really intense form of admiration? I mean, I’ve certainly admired before–guys for being just that attractive, girls for looking flawless, anyone for taking the high road in a grim situation when maybe I wouldn’t have, etc. To me there seems to be a small element of jealously involved, too, at least as far as I’m concerned… But I’m not sure awe can be jealousy, can it? Maybe awe is when you admire something so much that you can’t even be jealous anymore…?

    • magnc8858 says:

      I agree that sometimes there is a little bit of jealously, because you think, why can’t I create something like that or look like that or write like that. But awe is taking away the little touch of jealousy and just appreciating that this piece of art was created and that the person who did has a talent, and that we can appreciate our own talent too. That’s why sometimes we should in awe of our work because we all have talents too.

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