Blog: Uniqueness Has Many Colors

Christine Alfery

Posted on May 13 2021

Blog: Uniqueness Has Many Colors

Featured image: Yellow Tulip

Recently when going through the plethora of store catalogs that I get not only online but also the actual catalog, an ad caught my eye. It was from an online catalog called, “Artful Home.” Its headline read: “An Elegant Palette of Neutral Hues.” The subheading read: “Expressive Neutrals.” The text read: “in subtle undertones or bold black and white, these works of art lend graceful sophistication to your home with the elegance of a neutral palette.”

So, I ask, "Why does the word elegant define neutral?" As an adjective the word "elegant," according to an online dictionary, is: “pleasingly graceful and stylish in appearance or manner.” … “(of scientific theory or solution to a problem) pleasingly ingenious and simple. “the grand unified theory is compact and elegant in mathematical terms.” Words associated with the word elegant, neat, simple, effective, ingenious, clever, intelligent.

So as I understand this, the word "neutral" when linked to "elegant" is simple, neat, effective, ingenious, clever and intelligent, as well as graceful and stylish.

I have a problem with this just as I have a problem with the word "universal." They seem to garner thoughts of a “gray” middle. The grey middle that pleases all and offends no one. The pleasing grey middle that is filled with harmony and balance. Harmony and balance, for some reason, in today's thinking seem to not include individualism.

For me, if the middle is filled with harmony and is neutral and elegant and simple, how do we visualize this middle? What color is it? My guess has always been painted gray and blended with the stark, bold black and white edges of this scene.

Rather than thinking of the middle as having colors that blend and gently, gracefully, simply, elegantly, blend, mix, mingle, combine with each other to form gray, why not think of the middle as a rainbow of color, individual colors, unique colors, one-of-a-kind colors that bump up against each other and respect each others space and value and don’t try and blend into a monochromatic neutral in the middle?

Think of the middle as baroque, filled with a wide range of style and forms that are contradictory, but that appeal to the senses and is very dramatic, sensuous, rich, vital, filled with tension and movement, and exuberance. The edges of each independent space in my imagined middle are not blended and blurred and melting into one pot of grey. Rather, the edges are both smooth and jagged, symmetrical and asymmetrical, balanced and topsy turvy.

The key to my middle is to recognize difference and respect it when it appears and is standing next to you and your space. The idea that I need to change my individuality to conform to the middle just does not make sense to me. The middle is not neutral, but can be universal if and only if, we recognize difference and respect it when it appears standing next to you and your individual, unique space.

Why is it when we, as unique individuals, think differently than others, we are labeled as an outcast, as someone who doesn’t fit? Why is it that uniqueness is not respected and honored? I ask this question because I know as I live my life and make choices in my life that do not “fit” in a grey neutral space I am treated as weird, different, and as an outcast in an unkind way. In the arts, the words outcast and different were born as a badge of honor in the past. Now, it doesn’t seem that art and artists are as respected when they think differently. Rather, they are asked why don’t they fit in? Why do they not blend with others? Why are they not grey?

I approach my art like I approach life - art is a process, life is a process. Art, for me, is not goal oriented. Did I paint xyz today? Did I make xyz today? If I link my work to a pressure filled goal and not towards the process then I sincerely believe my work is not authentic, not real and doesn’t represent my uniqueness and individuality.

The middle is not grey and not neutral. Celebrate your many colors and the colors of others.

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