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  • A

    On Intention

    02.25.2013 / ART + DESIGN

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    Whenever I’m interviewing an artist or designer about their work, I always make sure to hit the usual suspects: “Where do you find your inspiration?” or “What’s a typical day like for you?” or – perhaps the most telling of all – “Peanut butter or jelly?” Yet, by far, the prompt that elicits the most refreshing answer has always been the simplest of questions: “Why?”

    Usually, an artist will reply with something deep and thought-provoking about nature or time or the meaning of life. Until, that is, Evonne Bellefluer answered…

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    “I don’t think art should be about communicating some ideology,” she writes in response to her latest work – a photographic collection of geometric blocks. “Art, like fashion, is meant to be enjoyed … something I look to to make me happy.”

    It’s a happiness that she, like myself, never explored academically. But because the interest was there – and because that interest sparked happiness – she pursued it regardless. “I had a conversation with a friend the other day who suggested that my art didn’t belong in a gallery setting because it had nothing to say. I completely disagree,” she writes.

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    It’s a belief system that few hold, but many should. “Art for art’s sake,” a phrase coined in 19th century France, holds a deep history that has evolved into a simpler meaning in today’s society: art holds value, whether or not it has a specific agenda. Artists create because they love to create, just as I write because I love to write.

    A professional chef might serve food to thousands of patrons in a busy restaurant, night after night. She might do so because she believes that quality food nourishes the soul, provides richness to conversation and fosters relationships. Or, she might simply love the creative outlet of mixing ingredients, experimenting with flavors, soiling her apron. Whether the intention lies in pushing an agenda vs. serving her own passions does not make her less-deserving of owning a restaurant and calling herself a chef. And it doesn’t change the taste of her food. Or does it?

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    Perhaps these tees exist simply because a designer noticed something beautiful in various typographic textures. But perhaps there’s a deeper purpose at work – perhaps these tees are meant for us to take pause and think about the future of our nation’s landscape, if only for a subconscious moment. Perhaps they’re meant to conjure up feelings of exploration and discovery. Perhaps, just maybe they were designed with intention.

    And I think that’s what makes art art. It’s not about meaning or purpose or passion. It’s about intention. It’s about making a conscious decision to create something with your hands, your mind, your spirit. Whether the finished product holds an agenda doesn’t matter, because the agenda does not exist in the object. It exists within us.

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    And sure, Evonne Bellefluer’s work might not have a specific agenda. But she does, whether she realizes it or not.

    (We all do.)

    Image Credits: Evonne Bellefluer

     Just for fun: Geometric paper sculptures, geometric handbags and geometric pinatas.

    • […] something on the internet (via design for mankind) […]

    • […] On Intention and “Art for art’s sake.” […]

    • I love this post. Such a refreshing read on art.. and I just adore your writing. I agree- one of the biggest goals I have when creating art is just to make something beautiful and pretty!

    • Those 3 years at uni on a so-called designer/maker course, where I was constantly questioned, where I had to have some sort of justification for what I was doing…pretty much destroyed all intuition and that playful enthusiasm I had. It’s been another 3 years and I’m beginning to get back what I lost. I’ve found that most of all the practicing designers/makers I’ve met or read about really do go on intuition, something beyond logic or intellectualizing…if it feels/looks right, then it is.

      I’m so glad I’m not alone! Thanks for posting this, I love your blog;)

      • Ah, I love this story, Ann. I can absolutely relate even though I never went through art classes!

    • Miki

      I love this. As a ‘maker of things’ I can totally relate. My mind simply will not let my hands be still, so I make things (and I bite my nails, and I tie my hair in knots and I do lots of other fidgety things that drive the Mister crazy).

      I have always thought that it is the process of creating that is the most interesting part anyways. Sure, the final product might be beautiful and moving or incredibly useful, but largely, I think the product is only necessary because of the commerce aspect of creating. An object is only really interesting because you get to imagine how it fits into your life. It really has nothing to do with the person who made it (unless they’re famous or something) or the life of the object before you saw it. If you ask me, the process of making things, the figuring out and experimenting and the actual doing, is where it’s at. To watch someone make something up in their head and then figure out the best way to bring it to life with their bare hands and whatever tools and resources they have available is like magic. It’s just a shame we don’t focus more on the process and less on the end result…it could possibly change the way a lot of people live their lives.

      • I LOVE these thoughts, Miki – thank you for sharing!!! From one fidgety gal to another, cheers to you. ;)

    • From my own experience, when I see beautiful things, designed furniture, a well cooked meal, beautiful artwork—the most authentic gratitude I can show is to try to make it. The more moved I am, the more I want to recreate it. Not that I would simply copy it, nor ditch my artistic voice, but I will try to fold the simple pleasure I felt from the piece into my own work. Art for Art sake as a maker can also be a heartfelt thank you to what we see and experience in the world around us.

      • This is such a beautiful thought, Leah, thank you!

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