Chancing the Serendipitous

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“Serendipity is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Author Unknown (from The Painter’s Keys)

Everyone wants to lay claim to serendipity.  Search for artists and serendipity and the return is pages and pages of artists using the term “serendipity” in association with their work.  A number of art galleries also go by the name “Serendipity.”  Is serendipity actually present in the work of all the many artists using the name?  Is all art serendipitous?  Is the Hand of some entity other than human, guiding the direction of art?  It likely depends on whether or not a person is open to the possibility.

One website claims to be “mapping serendipity.” The Merrriam- Webster Dictionary defines serendipity as, “luck that takes the form of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.  If you are searching a website and one thing leads to another, is that really serendipity?  The website would have to be so disorganized that finding anything would be purely by luck to make it truly serendipitous.   It does sound like it has made things easier to find.  But serendipity?

Many sources credit the coining of the term “serendipity” to Horace Walpole in 1742.  Walpole described serendipity as a “fortuitous happenstance” or a “pleasant surprise.”  Happenstances and surprises cannot be planned for.  They cannot be mapped.  Surprises are not found by feeding quarters into a slot machine until eventually the jackpot hits.  Serendipity does not occur because a person wants it to.

Serendipity happens when least expected. The scientific world is littered with the stories of how many great discoveries happened “accidently.” The only way to plan for serendipity is to be open to chance.  Max Ernst said, “All good ideas arrive by chance.”  Though it sounds like the thing to do is sit out in the garden until serendipity arrives, that is not the case at all.  Serendipity arrives during the busy-ness of life.  Serendipity happens while art is being created, not before.  It pops in unexpectedly.  The only way serendipity can be facilitated is to remain open to chance.  When chance flits in, grab it!!  That is the essence of true Serendipity!    It won’t have to be proclaimed.  It will be obvious.

Author: MaryGwyn

Artist-Art Educator-Art in Healthcare

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