I read an interview with Mary Babcock in the summer 2005 Surface Design Journal yesterday. She believes that beauty holds the power to interrupt our habitual forms of reaction to world events (fear, anger etc) and provides a path to help us find the hope within ourselves. She maintains that beauty is essential for growth and social change.
She refers to her time as a fine arts undergraduate. "Another student drew with brilliant colours and animated marks. During one critique someone asked about the content of his work. He said his best friend had just died. I was perplexed: how could he work with such brilliant colour during such pain? I will always remember his answer: it was the brilliant colour that enabled him to face the pain. Without that beauty he could not create, and without creating he could not go on."