Important Questions Tackled at International Arts Forum 2013


Should art always be beautiful? On Friday, November 1, 11 artists and participants from around the world including Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Canada, Philippines, and the United States gathered to answer this question, and to share their artwork. The occasion was the WYA 2013 International Arts Forum: Art and Beauty. The forum gathered artists and individuals from around the world and sought to answer, What is beauty? What is the role of beauty in art? Should art always be beautiful?

From November 1- 3 the World Youth Alliance headquarters transformed into a dazzling art gallery that gathered pieces from around the world. Art made out of coffee beans, geometric-inspired drawings, classical-styled sculpture, blue and green facial portraits, and ceramic pottery were just some of the exhibits that weekend. The weekend kicked off with a cocktail reception Friday night in which artists and participants milled about the room over food and wine, and also began to digest the vast quantity of artwork in the room. On Saturday morning, artists presented their work, and discussed why art was so important to them. For some, art was a meditative practice through which they arrived at a deeper contemplation of the world, for others, art was therapeutic for friends who had undergone trauma. For some, art was a reflective mirror to gaze upon the world, for others, art was a dynamic process of radical creation and renewed reality.

Three keynote speakers addressed the topic of art and beauty. James Panero, executive editor of the New Criterion, spoke on “The Beauty of Imperfection” in which he discussed the small, inexpensive crafts of an alternative art scene rising in neighborhoods such as Bushwick, Brooklyn. He concluded that these artists find beauty in the very ‘imperfections’ of their untraditional artwork. Dino Marcantonio, co-founder of Marcantonio Architects, spoke on “Building in Harmony with Human Nature,” in which he emphasized more traditional rubrics of beauty, such as symmetry, order, hierarchy. Ultimately, Marcantonio emphasized that architecture is an extension of human nature, just as the beehive is an extension of a bee’s nature. In harmony with human nature, good architecture guides us towards beauty. Finally, contemporary visual artist Wayne Adams spoke on “Somewhere between God and the Devil, Re-investing the Power of Beauty through Art,” in which he urged artists and art-lovers to venture beyond cheap imitations of beauty. The Arts Forum ended with a concert by the WYA Chamber Orchestra at the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Affairs Office in New York City.

During the conference, participants and artists tackled the fundamental questions: what is the role of the artist? What is the role of beauty in art? Do we settle for less when it comes to beauty? Is beauty becoming weaker today as we consume cheap imitations of what is beautiful? In answer to these questions, you can read the IAF Declaration on Art and Beauty.

For an in depth tour of the IAF, check out WYA intern Edward Ablang’s colorful blog post on the IAF, “Blazing Beauty beyond Barriers” or view our pictures in our IAF 2013 Facebook Album.

Finally, WYA looks forward to seeing you in 2014! The dates for the 2014 WYA IAF have been announced. Save the dates of November 7-9, 2014 on your calendars, for an exciting forum with international artists and individuals from around the world.


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