The Ackland Museum at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill just hosted an exhibit entitled “Good Object/Bad Object,” inviting visitors to examine works of art that defy customary decorum and could be called “bad” because they are unpredictably designed yet they achieve an emotional depth and resonant beauty equal to “good” art.
Bad objects are opportunities to explore the edge of our comfort zone and try on new ways of seeing the world.
When the role is taken on responsibly, a bad object can be the catalyst of change and inspire different thinking.
Isn’t it interesting how quickly we humans need to label things as good or bad when often those characteristics are circumstantial. Nature doesn’t operate that way.
In humans, often when a bad object occurs without sufficient planning and understanding, the artist might become defensive or even resentful, denying accountability for their creation. If they have not been provided the encouragement and freedom to create outside of traditional constructs, the artist might try to hide the bad object, its potential emotional depth and beauty lost.
More often than not these days I find myself stronger, more confident, and more accomplished when I step into the role of “bad object.” It is not that I am not good at these times. It is that I willingly take responsibility for non-conforming, breaking a patterned interaction, and inciting a shift in perspective to achieve a familiar level of resonance in an unfamiliar way.
There is a role for each of us as good objects and bad objects. The contrast reminds us of our undeniable ability to contain emotional depth and resonant beauty in the most surprising ways.