11 MAY, 2011
By: Maria Popova
What pie, cats and giant cheese have to do with life’s most elusive aspiration.
Happiness is a frequent subject here, from culling the most essential books on the art and science of happy to exploring various artists’ attempts to capture what lies at the heart of happiness. It’s safe to say the pursuit of happiness isn’t merely a constitutional right, but a human preoccupation as old as the world’s collective memory, yet we still don’t have even a remotely precise understanding of what truly makes us happy. That’s exactly what SVA student Catherine Young explores with DrawHappy — an ongoing global art project inviting people to draw what makes them happy.
The project began in Iceland, consistently listed as one of the happiest places in the world, where Catherine began asking people, both locals and tourists, what made them happy.
I realized that one of the most universal and clearest ways to record their responses was to ask them to draw what made them happy. Drawing is one of the earliest skills we learn; its basic elements are comprehensible to people of all ages, cultures and nations. I reasoned that if people knew that they were happy, they should be able to identify the source and moreover, visually embody this joy.” ~ Catherine Young
With its incredible cast of characters, from a theology-student-slash–dancer to a conservation-engineer-turned-hostel-housekeeper to a security-guard-slash-2D-animator, and its wide spectrum of happiness-markers ranging from the simple and poetic (“friends, family, love, cats, traveling, sunshine”) to the somewhat worrisome (“control, attention”), the project is an absolute delight of voyeurism and shared humanity.
House on a Hill
Okami Landa, 28 years old, New York, USA and Colombia; security guard, 2D animator, editor
Repeat, repeat, repeat
'I am happy when I feel the routine of everyday stuff. Repeat, repeat, and repeat.'
Sebastian Vidal, 32 years old; interior designer from Argentina but living in Barcelona
Britt, 36 years old, brand strategist; Atlanta, Georgia, now in New York
Me on a sailing cheese
'That's me on a piece of cheese, so I’ll never be hungry.'
Swantje, 26 years old, film student and receptionist; born in Germany, living in Iceland
Long leisurely dinner with family
'Having a long leisurely dinner with my close family in my lovely garden.'
Sif ,45 years old, director; Reykjavik, Iceland
'Cats make me happy. I love them. And having enough money makes me also happy.'
Ingibjörg Birna Steingrimsdottir, 52 years old, works in a museum; Reykjavik, Iceland
Stars, sky, books, dancing, dreaming, family
'The stars and the sky make me happy. Reading books makes me happy. Dancing and dreaming make me happy. My family makes me happy.'
Margrét Lilja Vilmundardóttir, 25 years old, theology student and dancer; Iceland
Colors, diversity, good energies
Zsofia, 26 years old; born in Hungary, living in Iceland studied nature conservation engineering, photography and furniture making; hostel housekeeper
After the 106th submission, Catherine decided to visualize the learning from the project thus far:
We found this Maslowian extrapolation most fascinating:
Submit your own drawing and join this wonderful global exercise in deconstructing life’s most elusive aspiration.
via Swiss Miss