Beauty in Boston (Strong)

Beauty in Boston (Strong)

Ceramics by Nicole Aquillano

Ceramics by Nicole Aquillano

“I just need to see beautiful things.”

So said a lady as she came through the door of CraftBoston on Saturday, April 20. The show was to have opened the day before, but the manhunt for the Marathon bombers was in full swing, and the city was basically shut down. Public transport wasn’t running, and the populace was told to stay indoors. By Saturday, after living through the terror of the bombing, the shootings, and the capture, people were ready to get out and begin healing their wounded spirits. The term "Boston Strong" had been coined, and many of Boston’s strong chose the beauty of CraftBoston as their balm.

For me, there was no better exemplar of Boston Strong than Nicole Aquillano, the talented ceramist with a Norman Rockwell smile who occupied the booth next to us. Nicole had run this year’s marathon in the admirable time of 3:30, and, afterward, had gone back to her studio to make pottery, only to find out later that for others, there was no finish.

There were a lot of very colorful and exuberant pieces at the show, but in Nicole’s booth, one found a gentle calm. Her artist’s statement says that she is influenced by her “longing to return to the comfort and stability of home.” People needed that kind of comfort and stability, as well as beauty, after the week they’d endured, and no one came away from Nicole’s booth without a smile on his or her face. There is a simple, reflective beauty to her work and its subject matter. She draws inspiration from the house she grew up in, which is pictured on many of her pieces: a very all-American-looking Victorian home with a light glowing in the window.  I think people found that light to be a grounding and healing thing after the events of the week they’d had.

I believe that a lot of healing had taken place by the closing on Sunday. The immersion in beautiful objects and the camaraderie of other beauty-seeking people had done its work. In an earlier blog post on the American Craft Council website I wrote: I feel that sending beautiful objects out into the world is the first line of defense against the ugliness, mediocrity, and transience that are increasingly so pervasive in our world. I wish I could say that beautiful objects can also be a defense against terrorism, but I am not quite that Pollyanna-ish.  However, I have now seen proof that beauty can at least help to heal the wounds left in its wake.

Artisan and writer Michael Scarborough creates decorative arts pieces and studio furniture inspired by his childhood in Japan. His work has been exhibited at the American Folk Art Museum, The Center for Art in Wood, and the Delaware Art Museum, and it can be found in private collections across the country. See more of Michael's pieces on his website, or view them in person at our American Craft Council Show in San Francisco, August 2-4, 2013.

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