Lessons from the Grid

"The Well-Tempered Grid," Williams Magazine Fall 2012

"The Well-Tempered Grid," Williams Magazine Fall 2012Kudos and gratitude to the magazine and the faculty contributing to “The Well-Tempered Grid” (fall 2012). The article is a veritable proof of the practical value and importance of the liberal arts today. By studying Sol LeWitt’s art, one hones skills of abstraction, enumeration and integration—so critical to information technology. By studying the dance of Martha Graham, one learns to “rediscover” rather than “invent” elements and then recombine them to express new constructions—so central to the packaging of financial products. By studying archaeology’s progression from grid-based recording of finds at a dig to the artful interpretation of their meaning, one embodies the very essence of strategic management, medical diagnosis and more.

The value of the liberal arts for their own sake is widely acknowledged—as a means to a fulfilling life of curiosity, self-creation and glorious contemplation. But when we talk about the creative economy, our future national prosperity, one’s career earnings potential—all this “practical” stuff—the liberal arts are more important than they’ve been in a century, possibly ever. Perhaps this was the editors’ and authors’ purpose, or perhaps not. Regardless, you nailed it!

—Malcolm Smith ’87, Williamstown, Mass.