Challenging Convention and Championing Beauty at PINC Sarasota



The audience has gathered in their seats in the Sarasota Opera House as internationally acclaimed graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister takes the stage. Dressed casually and speaking with a slight Austrian accent, he’s here to talk about beauty. Many people have their own thoughts on the matter, he admits. They say that beauty is boring. That it resides, if anywhere, in the eye of the beholder, something unable to be touched, much less used, quantified or understood. “They are idiots,” Sagmeister says, and their ideas “utterly stupid and ultimately inhuman.” He has roughly 20 minutes onstage and he has won multiple Grammys, so the audience listens. “I’ll try to convince you,” he says.

Such frankness may not be exactly par for the course at PINC Sarasota, but it’s not unusual either. As one of 14 speakers participating in last Thursday’s conference, Sagmeister represents just one of the many rabbit holes that the audience poked their collective heads into, including presentations from a wildfire specialist, an Iditarod champion, innovative educators, human rights advocates and artists of all stripes. In a conference celebrating People, Ideas, Nature and Creativity (PINC), there’s plenty of room under the umbrella.

Before Sagmeister, the audience heard from people like community organizer Meg Daly, who’s transforming her city (Miami) with a team of volunteers and a vision, and Claire Elsdon, who quit a job in finance to ride her motorcycle through Africa, and now runs a company teaching women to ride and maintain motorbikes that enable essential services, such as midwifery, to reach rural areas. Artists of all types fit under the umbrella as well, whether they work in felt (Lucy Sparrow) or metal (Reuben Margolin) or sand (Jim Denevan). Other speakers, such as Jaha Dukureh, who met with world leaders in the Americas and Africa to end female genital mutilation and saw tangible legislative results, shared stories of international movements.

Whether learning about the mechanics of wildfire or the possible benefits of a Russian spacesuit found on eBay, PINC Sarasota is about expanding the idea of the possible and daring each audience member to question the choices made and paths taken. Was it right, or was it just safe? At PINC, it’s all about making that leap to fulfill one’s passion. And with speakers as convincing as Sagmeister, maybe one or two in the audience will feel compelled to jump.

Held every year in December since 2014, PINC Sarasota will return next year, with tickets going on sale in September.

Pictured: Stefan Sagmeister works the audience at PINC Sarasota 2017. Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.

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