The Art of Well-Being


American, born 1930

The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, 1996

Color lithograph, 94/100

Faith Ringgold © 1996

Museum Purchase



This exhibition—The Art of Well-Being—will not attempt to define either art or well-being. Rather it presents a range of works from the Muscarelle Collection from tiny to large, across media, and from diverse times and geographies; works chosen to invite us to explore those ideas. The exhibition has five sections—the individual; kin; community; natural world; and art making. Individually and in groups the paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and other media shown here express the needs, pleasures, desires, and aspirations of individuals, communities, and the wider world. At the same time, though, the works chosen are intended to evoke the web of connections among these perspectives, whether providing a space for quiet contemplation or a call to action; freedom from worldly interests or concern for society; a reminder of communal bustle and conviviality or identification with the non-human. Art—as these choices suggest—is a way of knowing, doing, and being in the world that prompts reconsideration of what well-being means. It also provides a “language” (in the words of philosopher Nelson Goodman) with which to communicate complex ideas about the world. The language of art (which in all its iterations combines skill and creative thinking) has an advantage over many other languages in its nuance of approach and tolerance of ambiguity; art encourages complex thinking and empathy. Our hope is that reconsidering well-being through the lens of art will expand what that term means.

The Art of Well-Being has been curated by students in The Curatorial Project, a course taught by Catherine Levesque, Associate Professor of Art History during the spring 2021 semester.

"For if one considers well all that is done in this life, one will find that every man unconsciously is engaged in painting this world, both in creating and producing new forms and figures, in dressing variously, in building and filling in spaces with buildings and houses, in cultivating the fields and ploughing land into sketches and pictures . . . "

Michelangelo according to Francisco de Hollanda in, Francisco de Hollanda Diálogos em Roma (1538): Conversations on Art with Michelangelo Buonarroti. Ed. Grazia Delores Folliero-Metz, Heidelberg, 1998, p. 93.

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