A&E

Beauty, Busyness and Philly Art

     The semester has just begun, and already I am in “rush mode.” Texts must be read; papers must be written; people must be e-mailed; meetings must be attended. So why should something as seemingly impractical and irrelevant as fine arts be important in the face of my ever-growing to-do list?

     I think everyone experiences seasons in which life’s daily business threatens to become overwhelming. Whenever I have found myself in such a season, I have also found that stability comes not from any grand gesture, but from small successive moments of peace. These moments may be time spent in prayer, in worship, in song, in nature or in service. But always, they require the contemplation of something beautiful: perhaps the beauty of music and voices singing in harmony, or the glory of forests and fields and flowers, or the loveliness inherent in another human being. In some mysterious way, beauty breathes deeply-needed peace into us. Beauty reminds us of the inherent goodness of the world, and thus equips us with the hope to face life’s darker moments. Like music, friendship, prayer and nature, fine arts have this same power to bless us—that is, if we are willing cultivate a sense of attentiveness towards them.

     One thing I love about Eastern is its proximity to Philadelphia, and the opportunities this provides for taking advantage of the rich sources of beauty that the city has to offer. And yet, the idea of committing ourselves to investing in these things—even just for an afternoon—can seem daunting in the context of our busy lives and college budgets. Fortunately for us, many fine arts organizations are aware of this, and actually cater to the needs of students.

     If the prospect of sitting back, closing your eyes, and letting the rich harmonies of a beautiful orchestral piece dance through your daydreams sounds enticing, you may want to consider the Philadelphia Orchestra’s student membership. This $25 annual membership includes access to unlimited concerts for the season. With the membership, you can even purchase additional student tickets for non-members for only $8, making it easy to bring a friend. The Philadelphia Orchestra will also be hosting a College Concert night on Wednesday, Sept. 21 that is completely free for college students, and includes complimentary post-concert desserts. For more information, you can visit the Orchestra’s college student page at philorch.org/college-students#/.

     Perhaps you would rather wander through centuries of visual art, or gaze into the vibrant, mystical blur of a glorious Monet piece. If this piques your interest, consider visiting the Philadelphia Art Museum—by timing your visit correctly, you could do so for as little as a penny! Standard admissions are $20 for adults but only $14 for students. Student memberships providing year-long museum access are also available for $40, although if you buy one before Sept. 15, the cost is only $20.  The museum also has regular Pay What You Wish days on the first Sunday of every month and on Wednesday evenings. At these times, admission is by donation, which can be as little as a penny.  You can find more information on the museum’s website: http://www.philamuseum.org/.

     We are constantly being asked to be practical, efficient and productive. Consider stopping for a moment and investing in an experience that is entirely impractical but incredibly beautiful. I have a hunch that you won’t regret it.

     Sources: philamuseum.org, philorch.org

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