BYOA: What is the Meaning of Life

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Thank you, all, for a stimulating conversation on the Meaning of Life on Sunday, January 17. I am looking forward to the next one. Meanwhile, Val Roos and Suzanne Valois have sent us the texts they read, to accompany her art work:

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Val Roos, Just in Time

Time may just be the most overused word in the English language. Life is structured, packaged around it.

Barnett Newman once spoke of Cézanne’s work saying, objectively he painted apples, however, subjectively what was he painting?

Which leads me to this work :

Objectively:  a watch, a time piece, and a bee, the multitasking little creature that extracts its own food, nectar , as it regenerates through pollination .

Subjectively: It is time to give back as much as we take.

We may be just in time. Nationally it may be time for Justin.

My meaning of life is HOPE, without hope there is no meaning.

VAL ROOS, January 2016



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Suzanne Valois, Letting Go, 2015, Gesso and charcoal on wood, 16″ x 12″

Suzanne writes: I did not have the intention of bringing in this work for the RIA discussion and it was a last minute decision. It is from a series that I had just worked on,of intuitive portrait drawings on meditation.

It pulled at me though in that this piece captures what I believe the
meaning of life is about for me. The question in itself informs all of my
work. I have seemingly forever been looking for answers to this
question as I wondered “How does one possibly know what to do in this
life if they have not investigated just why on earth we are here”?

This portrait is of a man (they are not gender specific as the series
includes woman as well) who is in a state of deep concentration and is
partially no longer present. The drawn lines allude to a different
energetic state that he has entered. The vibrational aura above his head
indicates that there is an energetic release and absorption taking place.


BYOA (Bring Your Own Art) on the Meaning of Life is the sixth exhibition in RIA’s series Growing Up Human.
When the opening began, on Friday, January 1, 2016, the walls in the RIA Project Room were empty. Rene stood ready with his hammer, nails, hooks and tape. Artists arrived with everything from large paintings, to poems, and even a cookie! By 3 PM most of the works were installed, and we enjoyed a reading of poems, some story-telling and chanting. A warm thank you goes to all the 35 participants, and to the other guests who ventured to see this happening on New Year’s Day. The exhibition can be seen by appointment till January 24. 


Illustration for Isaac Asimov book cover Robot Visions.1990

The first BYOA exhibition, on  RIA’s overall theme: Growing Up Human, took place on New Year’s Day 2015. Throughout 2015, and continuing in 2016, RIA invites you to reflect on what it means to be human in a post-humanist era.


Still don’t know the meaning of life? Ask Google’s chatbot:


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BYOA Installation view, Jan. 1 2016

Or do some old-fashioned research:

In the Ottawa Public Library:

Daniel M. Klein, Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It. Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live  (New York: Penguin 2015)

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BYOA Installation view, January 1 2016

Also in the library:                                                                                                  Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence. (New York: Liveright Pub.Corp. 2014)

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BYOA Installation view, January 1 2016

What isn’t in the library but what should be:

Terry Eagleton, The Meaning of Life, A Very Short Introduction. (New York: Oxford University Press 2007)

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BYOA Installation view, January 1 2016

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BYOA Installation view, January 1 2016

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BYOA Installation view. Jan. 1 2016