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Spiritual Fuel: Appreciating Various Forms of Art

In addition to the variety of talks and panels on philosophy, policy and self-improvement that will be offered at Objectivist Summer Conference 2016, we’ve added a comprehensive course on esthetics which will help you learn how to find value in art.

Ayn Rand viewed art as indispensable to human life — as a form of spiritual fuel offering a vision of what life “might be and ought to be.” The course, “Spiritual Fuel: Appreciating Various Forms of Art,” offers guidance on how to savor a variety of artistic media. It begins with an overview of Rand’s theory of art and its role in human life, and then each session will focus on a particular art form and be taught by a speaker with professional expertise in that form.

Here are the sessions included in the course:

Day 1: What Is Art and Why Does It Matter?

Speaker: Aaron Smith

What is art? What explains the deeply personal reaction we have to art? Why does Rand think that art is so important to human life? In this session Aaron Smith will provide an overview of Rand’s view of the nature of art and its role in human life.

Day 2: The Value of the Visual Arts: How to Appreciate Sculpture and Still Life Painting

Speakers: Sandra Shaw (sculpture) and Linda Mann (painting)

Sculpture chiefly dramatizes the human figure in three-dimensional form for us to contemplate. As with all art, what we look for in sculpture affects what we gain from it. In this talk, Sandra Shaw will explain how sculpture embodies ideas that enhance our lives. Key aspects of sculpture will be highlighted in a vivid slide presentation. The nature of sculpture, and the esthetic value that is unique to it, will be demonstrated with sample artworks from the past and present.

What is the value of still life painting? A good still life presents us with an intimate, intentional, largely man-made world to contemplate. Free of the randomness of nature seen in landscape painting and the emphasis on man’s character in figurative painting, the viewer can focus on composition and how objects are portrayed. Linda Mann will demonstrate how these aspects of still life can emphasize the crucial ideas that the external world exists and is beautiful, and that man is capable of delight when seeing it.

Days 3 and 4: Listening to Music: An Ear Training Approach

Speaker: Thomas Shoebotham

Music is a subject that many people are very passionate about, yet also a subject that many people find very difficult to describe. These two sessions will present the basic principles of music and examine the various elements that make it up. With the help of many live and recorded examples, attendees will gain a better appreciation of how musical materials are integrated. Strategies for further study, which will deepen understanding of this most elusive of art forms, will also be provided.

Day 5: Finding Fuel in Short Fiction: Giving Full Conscious Value to the Writer’s Choices

Speaker: Shoshana Milgram

A man, after reflecting on his life and career, resolves to change course.  How can his aspiration become our inspiration? As readers of a short story, published in 1912 by a writer who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize (and to defend The Fountainhead), we will explore how an artist chose to portray moral self-awakening. (No pre-conference reading required.)

Day 6: Cinema as Art — It’s Not Just Entertainment: How to Analyze, Judge and Discuss Movies Objectively

Speaker: Michael Paxton

From formulating a movie’s theme to isolating the various cinematic elements that make up a film, this session will present an objective template for analyzing and discussing movies.  A quick conceptual and practical guide for lovers of the most complex art form, the session will also define the role of the director, cinematographer, screenwriter, editor and other key roles. Those who want to be able to discuss movies intelligently and objectively will be equipped with the proper terminology. 

Start each day at OCON with this unique esthetic experience and get your daily dose of spiritual fuel! There are only a few weeks left to enjoy a reduced registration cost for the conference, which is to be held this year in the Greater Seattle Area, July 2–7, so be sure to register soon. No separate sign-up for this course is required if you are scheduled to attend. At OCON, you may take this course in its entirety or drop in on individual sessions of particular interest. Learn more.

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