People traditionally rely on visual arts as an effective communication tool and medium of self-expression for when words fail to convey abstract concepts. Thera Mjaaland, anthropologist and professional photographer, writes, “Art is capable of negotiating conceptual gaps caused by a dichotomized epistemology” (393). In essence, Mjaaland asserts that art helps relate different modes of thinking by illustrating the abstract and difficult to grasp—privileging the communicative value of an image over that of text. Within this method of communication is a collection of works acknowledged by public consensus to be of an elevated status or value. The art world is deeply invested in the potential outcome of a discovery of cogent sources of aesthetic experience and the implications a “solution” of aesthetic appeal has for an evolving definition of art. However, researchers who endeavor to identify what precise elements make a work of fine art pleasing ultimately stumble into a pattern of reductionist thinking. In particular, those who analyze fine art in order to establish what mathematical principles may be responsible for a work’s enduring popularity use methods that institute confirmation bias. This type of reductionist analysis, while philosophically relevant, yields misleading conclusions about the sources of an artwork’s fame.

Lauren Collie Picture

Lauren Colie is a junior pursuing a degree in Mass Communications with a Print/Online Concentration and a minor in Writing in the Honors College at VCU. Colie realized her interest in research while in a research writing course her freshman year. Her work has been published in the Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Journal, Auctus and the 2012 UROP Poster Symposium.

Colie stays involved in research by serving as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the same research writing course that sparked her initial interest in research. Colie is the current Managing Editor of Auctus, is Vice President and co-founder of Girl Effect at VCU and serves as the social media consultant for the William Byrd Community House. She is also a freelance writer and copy editor for both Daniel Magazine and the Metaphysical Circus. In the future, Colie hopes to find a career that combines her interests of communication and education.

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