The Art of Finding Beauty

This November, we were honored to host a beloved local artist, Laura Poulette, for a Dinner on the Grounds. Laura draws inspiration for her work from the incredible biodiversity right here in Appalachia. As a fellow artist, this particular Dinner on the Grounds holds a special place in my heart. Even before her presentation began I knew we were kindred spirits. In preparation for the event, she placed several nature knick-knacks such as chestnuts, gingko leaves, feathers, and pieces of cedar wood on each table. My own coat pockets at the time were full of acorns and pebbles of my own, and I was delighted to find someone else who shares my appreciation for the little things in life.

Laura talked about her path toward becoming an artist, her creative process and offered advice for other creatives such as myself. I loved her story about how her unique artistic style was born. She had gone for a winter stroll, and the absence of the elaborate foliage and colors of spring, she was able to take notice of the more subtle colors of winter. Inspired, she began to collect pieces of wood varying in color, which on their own were unextraordinary, but when she aligned them together by color they made a beautiful rustic rainbow. Her ability to recognize beauty in her natural surroundings and help others see it too is truly remarkable.

I was not the only one who was inspired by her work. Sam Cole, from the Office of Academic Affairs, was so moved by Laura’s presentation that she wrote a poem, and was gracious enough to allow me to share this section of the poem:

Observational skills are as close to spiritual practice

As prayer. Look, here, near the path, the flowers

Of rebirth.


And here, the leaf showers of a new cycle to come.

Praise the name.

Let us unit our voices and rejoice

For sun, rain, rock, and fawn.

For the snow, wild grape, the icicle, and vine.


As winter approaches let us all take a leaf out of Laura’s book. Let us each take time to go for daily walks in this beautiful land that surrounds us. Let us stop and notice our surroundings with fresh eyes, taking nothing for granted. Let us open our hearts and minds to the hundreds of creative opportunities at our fingertips and take the time to make something new.

Article Written by Heather Dent