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Exhibit invites viewers to consider what makes a ‘good life’

Artwork, performances by Brown, RISD students explore themes of faith, happiness, purpose

A pop-up exhibit titled “How do we live a ‘Good Life?’” used the paintings, photography and poems of 16 artists from Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design to attempt to answer the event’s title question Wednesday.

“There are many definitions for happiness, … (but) I still continue to wonder how I can make myself happy,” said Shinyoung Lee ’21, who attended the exhibit.

The exhibit was hosted by various Christian communities at Brown and RISD and was co-sponsored by the Veritas Forum, the program for Ethical Inquiry, the Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life and Cornerstone Magazine. Emily Ma ’21, one of the organizers of the event, explained how they designed the exhibition as a lead-up to the Veritas Forum’s upcoming March event on impartial love.     

Ma stated that the purpose of last Wednesday’s exhibit was to spark conversations among Brown and RISD students while emphasizing the importance of creativity and self-expression in answering the prompt. “This is a quite unique opportunity and … a free space for people to be willing to be honest and to get artists thinking too. We are so busy in our lives that we forget to think about what our identity is and what our purpose is,” Ma said.

The first hour of the event consisted of artist talks, wherein the creators described how their art addressed the meaning of a “good life.” Olivia McClain ’22 explained how her photographs dealt with the themes of nature and a desire to discover her place in the world at large. “To me, to live a good life is to find purpose,” McClain said, advising listeners to take a step back and think about what makes them happy.

Joseph Delamerced ’22 narrated his personal quest to understand value and goodness, further elaborating on how his faith influenced his reflective poetry. “The things I’m doing right now … have value in the fact that I’m putting it all towards a higher power, towards God. Everything I’m doing I’m dedicating to him,” said Delamerced.

Along with visual art of different mediums, the event also featured several performances. The gospel choir Harmonizing Grace performed a song, and Lydia Haile ’19 sang her original compositions. For one of her songs, titled “Germany,” Haile told of how her travels influenced her worldview. “I came to the realization that people are the same no matter where you go,” Haile said, going on to explain that people everywhere face similar problems.

According to Ma, more than 70 students attended the exhibit, including one student involved in preparing the event, Julius Gingles ’21. He described his interest in how the event centered the notion of a good life around faith, noting a common thread of “something bigger” in all the works presented. “When I think of the academic atmosphere at Brown and how that’s progressed for me, as a second-semester sophomore, I realize I’ve kind of been losing the mark for what it means to live a good life,” Gingles said.



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