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Differentiating Design and Art

I understand the frustration inherent in this debate. There aren’t any easy answers, and it seems like a never-ending conversation. One thing is clear, though, and that is everybody uses these two terms, “art” and “design” to mean different things. They aren’t used interchangeably. I practice both design and art, the the two practices each have unique qualities. My mentors often make distinctions about the way I have to think in a different way when I’m making art versus when I’m doing design work.
So, why, then, do people seem to get so defensive when I ask, “How are these two disciplines defined?” A response like, “That’s just a pointless conversation,” just seems lazy to me. Is it too hard a question? I’m not saying everyone has to agree on specifics, but don’t tell me that the discussion is useless. There is a reason I’m getting a second MFA. If design and art were the same thing, then paying all this money for another degree would be a complete waste of time.

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Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium is firmly in my list of top five favorite books of all time. I re-read it about once a year, and it influences me deeply, and probably also in ways I’m sure I’m not even aware of.
Today’s blog post on Brain Pickings celebrates his chapter on Lightness. My favorite. Now I’m excited to get out my copy and read it again.

Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium is firmly in my list of top five favorite books of all time. I re-read it about once a year, and it influences me deeply, and probably also in ways I’m sure I’m not even aware of.

Today’s blog post on Brain Pickings celebrates his chapter on Lightness. My favorite. Now I’m excited to get out my copy and read it again.

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Do you think James Turrell has been influenced by the Pantheon in Rome? I certainly do.

Left: The Pantheon (erected 27 BC) in Rome

Right: James Turrell’s the color inside (installed in 2013 AD)  at University of Texas, Austin 

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I visited The Museum of Modern Art in Rome last week.

I’ve been interested in seeing artists’ drawings lately, especially drawings that act as a kind-of proposal for something more ambitious.

Top is a drawing by Christo for Ponte Sant’Angelo Wrapped. 1969.

Bottom image shows two drawings for wall installations by Francesco Lo Savio.

Tags: drawing rome art
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Thoughts on the Next 5 Years

Lightness

  • Transparency / Opacity
  • Gravity / Suspension
  • Glow / Reflection / Refraction
  • Spontaneity / Control
  • Ease / Non-Aggression

Design

  • Color
  • Shape
  • Line
  • Mass

Metaphysical response to space:

  • Intuitive expression/impression
  • Interior / heart & mind
  • Exterior / environment

Audience. I think the audience will depend upon the venue where the work occurs. I hope my audience will be open to exploring their experiences of a spiritual connection with my work as a prompt.

I dreamt that I was walking about 3 inches above the earth. Everyone else’s feet were planted firmly on the ground.

What is Lightness?

  • Playfulness
  • Joy
  • Awe
  • Imagination
  • Contentment
  • Exploration
  • Curiosity
  • Freedom
  • Compassion
  • Quiet
  • Connection
  • Grace

History is lead. 

Heavy. Grounded. We literally dig history out of the earth. Water is like taffy, sticky. It stretches and flows, connecting the old with the new. A plane hurtles through the atmosphere at 550mph, traveling through time.

Emotional, intellectual, and physical spaces are made of these three elements. These simple ingredients — earth, water, and atmosphere — mix in innumerable ways, each cooking up its own flavorful stew of experiences. 

I’m interested in the combinations that offer sensations of lightness. My lightness hopes to envelop each viewer, cradling and nurturing them. Lightness invites inner reflection, celebrates silence, and encourages curiosity and imagination.

Lightness doesn’t have a story. It lives in a solitary moment. It appears, disappears, and reappears elsewhere. The sensation is elusive. It is evoked through the senses; it’s neither obvious nor dogmatic. It changes, migrates, and evolves. 

Lightness is both pleasurable and unsettling. It celebrates an unlimited potential that is both exhilarating and frightening. A floating sensation is both freedom and loss. 

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My former students were selected to be published in the prestigious Graphis New Talent 2014!

My former students were selected to be published in the prestigious Graphis New Talent 2014!

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A couple weeks ago I went see work by SuttonBeresCuller at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle. The show was fantastic, subtle, well-crafted, and smart. This “canned dirt (not non-toxic)” is a result of the collective’s experiences trying to create an artist haven at the site of an old gas station in they Georgetown neighborhood. Basically they have to remove all the toxic soil before the city will allow them to move forward with renovations and to occupy the space. Needless to say, they’ve probably learned a lot more than they set out to know during that bureaucratic process!

A couple weeks ago I went see work by SuttonBeresCuller at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle. The show was fantastic, subtle, well-crafted, and smart. This “canned dirt (not non-toxic)” is a result of the collective’s experiences trying to create an artist haven at the site of an old gas station in they Georgetown neighborhood. Basically they have to remove all the toxic soil before the city will allow them to move forward with renovations and to occupy the space. Needless to say, they’ve probably learned a lot more than they set out to know during that bureaucratic process!

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I’m liking the lace and layer effect. Too trendy? This has been sitting in my studio for a year. It’s time to “get off the schnide”.

I’m liking the lace and layer effect. Too trendy? This has been sitting in my studio for a year. It’s time to “get off the schnide”.

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There’s a big mess in the studio. And that’s a good thing!
#art #design #painting #drawing

There’s a big mess in the studio. And that’s a good thing!

#art #design #painting #drawing

Tags: art
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"hooks is the person who revealed the secret of academia to me, which is that when you use your own language, when love and passion are part of your work, you are able to reach more people. And isn’t that why we are in this business, to reach people? To be part of their process of growing and changing? Isn’t that what we look for in every job, in every conversation?"

— Danielle Henderson on bell hooks, Icon (via thefeministpress)

(via becauseiamawoman)

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vintageanchorbooks:

The 1920s was a great time for reading altogether—very possibly the peak decade for reading in American life. Soon it would be overtaken by the passive distractions of radio, but for the moment reading remained most people’s principal method for filling idle time.”
― from “One Summer: America, 1927” By Bill Bryson

#BillBryson wrote one of my favorite books of all time. #author #read #hike #AT

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Non-Aggression & Dharma Art

I’m going back to the basics. Way back to the original motivation for my art practice. 

I’m re-reading True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art by Chogyam Trungpa, founder of Naropa University and Shambhala. It has been in the back of my mind since I initially read it three years ago. I’m choosing now to make it a centerpiece of my thinking and state of mind for making art.

There was a point in my life when I decided that anger, fire, and passion were no longer useful. I chose to try to live a more peaceful, quiet life filled with ease and grace (well, as much as that is even possible!). I want my art to reflect that sense of quiet, and the shifting nature of planning and letting go. It is that sense of confidence, serendipity, playfulness that I’m after. Maybe even a little shrug of the shoulders. As my mom would say, “Oh well!” It is a weight lifted, a beam of light in a darkened space, oneness.

Trungpa says in his book, "Genuine art—dharma art—is simply the act of nonaggression."

This is my sutra.

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Last night I attended a panel discussion at the SAM Olympic Sculpture Park, as part of their Art + Environment series. The topic was transit, and it was super interesting. Transit systems reflect the values of the surrounding communities. They’re always trying to cater to competing interests. The panel talked a lot about economic and efficiency priorities that are usually sought by these government agencies. They have to answer to the public for how they spend tax dollars, after all. 
A great point was made about giving citizens a sense of pride and ownership of the interstitial, transitory, public spaces in their cities. This isn’t accomplished with drab, purely functional design. One panelist mentioned that the government agencies that are solely focused on efficiency end up seeing the system as a machine, and that the human users are often seen as an obstacle to efficiency. How ironic, since it’s the human users that create the need for the system in the first place! 
When people are left out of the equation, their experiences in the “machine” are not considered. Poor experiences with the system are what discourages people from using it. Design and art can bring that human element back into the picture, improving experiences, inviting a little serendipity back into public places.
Interestingly, this morning, I came across this article about exactly that. CityLab reported on a study by researchers at University of Minnesota. They compared how people felt after waiting at a bus stop that had a shelter and/or a bench, or after waiting at a simple, cheap curbside sign. The researchers found that people estimated their wait times differently based on the type of bus stop. People who waited at the shelter underestimated the amount of time they spent waiting, whereas people who waited at a curbside sign experienced the wait as longer and more annoying.
This also reminds me of a story I read a while back. A brand new high rise opened in a big city somewhere. People kept complaining about how long it took for the elevators to arrive. But when designers placed mirrors in the lobby, the complaints ended. People still waited the same amount of time, but their experience was shifted in some positive way. This is what creative thinking, the arts, and design can bring to urban planning.

Last night I attended a panel discussion at the SAM Olympic Sculpture Park, as part of their Art + Environment series. The topic was transit, and it was super interesting. Transit systems reflect the values of the surrounding communities. They’re always trying to cater to competing interests. The panel talked a lot about economic and efficiency priorities that are usually sought by these government agencies. They have to answer to the public for how they spend tax dollars, after all. 

A great point was made about giving citizens a sense of pride and ownership of the interstitial, transitory, public spaces in their cities. This isn’t accomplished with drab, purely functional design. One panelist mentioned that the government agencies that are solely focused on efficiency end up seeing the system as a machine, and that the human users are often seen as an obstacle to efficiency. How ironic, since it’s the human users that create the need for the system in the first place! 

When people are left out of the equation, their experiences in the “machine” are not considered. Poor experiences with the system are what discourages people from using it. Design and art can bring that human element back into the picture, improving experiences, inviting a little serendipity back into public places.

Interestingly, this morning, I came across this article about exactly that. CityLab reported on a study by researchers at University of Minnesota. They compared how people felt after waiting at a bus stop that had a shelter and/or a bench, or after waiting at a simple, cheap curbside sign. The researchers found that people estimated their wait times differently based on the type of bus stop. People who waited at the shelter underestimated the amount of time they spent waiting, whereas people who waited at a curbside sign experienced the wait as longer and more annoying.

This also reminds me of a story I read a while back. A brand new high rise opened in a big city somewhere. People kept complaining about how long it took for the elevators to arrive. But when designers placed mirrors in the lobby, the complaints ended. People still waited the same amount of time, but their experience was shifted in some positive way. This is what creative thinking, the arts, and design can bring to urban planning.

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Spencer Finch is giving a talk here in Seattle next week. I will definitely be there.

The New Foundation Seattle describes his work: “Spencer Finch pursues the ineffable through his work—from the color of a sunset outside a Monument Valley motel room to the afternoon breeze by Walden Pond, the shadows of passing clouds in the yard of Emily Dickinson’s home or the light in a Turner painting.”