Parsons School of Design
AAS Communication Design
Empathy is described as understanding another individual’s experience, but the English word ‘empathy’ originated from the German word Einfühlung, meaning an aesthetic ability to appreciate objects and nature.
Aesthetic empathy is an experience similar to watching a sunset. One might enjoy a beautiful sunset by letting the light wash over them, not attempting to control or change the situation, but simply basking in the sun and feeling in awe of the sky. Similarly, when we hold empathy for another, we sit in their presence, allowing their “aesthetic” to resonate with us, and accept them as they are.
Exaggerated sunset hues are used throughout this piece. The cover depicts the “layers” of a sunset confined within a box, while the back cover allows the “sunset” to take up full space. Concepts such as “awe”, “jointness”, and “holding space” for one another are illustrated using colored squares to contrast rigid control with radical acceptance. This book lives somewhere between coffee table book and textbook, capturing both beauty and science-based information about the construct of aesthetic empathy.