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A piece of beautiful art that I have encountered that has truly stuck with me is Marshall’s, Better Homes, Better Gardens, 1994. As the subject matter of the piece isn’t always beautiful, the way it displays the aspects of play, symbol and festivity that Godamer explains is unique.

Firstly, this piece contains the characteristic of playfulness, in the sense that there is meaning to the art, as Marshall intended there to be. There is a reasoning to the piece, as still movement of understanding where my encounter with the piece leads to the intended theme and message of the painting. Therefore, I felt like I was put in the role of an active agent in which I was “playing along” with the piece requiring intention from me, which gave me the ability to give meaning and understanding to the art.

Moreover, as for symbol, I found it difficult to find, the piece achieves more than meaning. The experience of this art piece “lies in the impact which it overwhelms us”. This piece works as symbol representing the construction of race, and the way in which people of color are treated. For me, it also connected me to something that as beyond myself, as I don’t identify as a person of color, this piece brought me to an encounter of something new, the veiled presence of the theme demanding something of me.

As Godamer describes festivity as “a festival is an experience of community” and Marshall’s piece does just that. As it is about the people of color’s community, it brings them together in addressing the constitution of their race. On the other hand, it also brings awareness to everyone else and the experience of this piece is a festival on its own. As each viewer sees the painting, the festival continues on as the work teaches us to contemplate what it is. This made me and it makes any viewer enter into timelessness through the art.

Furthermore, Pieper believe that something is festive if it is meaningful in itself. This links directly to Marshall’s piece as the meaningful representation of race is to be contemplated by the viewer. The quality to this piece of wondering, as there is more to the world than what we can see, as we can see the reality as a gift, which it to be celebrated. Even though this painting is not particularly seen as religious there are elements of the divine, such as the light in the sky which can be seen as heaven where it can be celebrated as the good is recognized.

Marshall, Better Homes, Better Gardens, 1994



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