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Re: What is Art -- And a Lengthy Explanation of Why You Don't Want to Know

>The intent of an artist is not important. Ultimately, an outsider cannot
>really know what the intent of an artist is in producing any given piece.
>an artwork is created in an instant, then there is no time for the artist
>become aware of intent for the instant of creation. If an artwork takes a
>longer period of time to be created, then it is probable that the intent of
>the artist also changed during the creative process. Artists, as a general
>rule, are not the most voluble of human beings. Much "intent" is
>interpretation and creation after the fact of the artwork’s creation.

Whether a piece is created quickly or after much labor, it's the evidence of
engagement with the materials that I personally respond to. I can't
understand how any creative process can occur without something physically
in hand, but I'm sure that probably has to do more with my learning style.

When I work with third graders as a visiting artist in the public schools we
do abstract pulp paintings - some end up as simple calligraphic marks, some
are totally wild and some are very minimal. After they're dry, we talk about
how the physical movement of the artist is transmitted through the work to
the viewer. (I certainly get that sense from looking at Richard's incredible
bindings, where I feel like I'm privy to discoveries he's made in terms of
what he can make leather do and to the care that was taken in each step of
the book's creation.)

My favorite quote on this subject is by Robert Rauschenberg, who was
interviewed by NPR on his last birthday. He said, "People always ask me if I
ever run out of ideas, but ideas are not all that helpful to me. What I
never run out of is *curiosity*, I just can't *wait* to see how things turn

Too much 'intent' can really screw things up, in my opinion. Compulsion is
much more interesting.

>That's all right for him, maybe, but I don't want there to be
>three or four thousand possibilities of interpreting my canvas.

In terms of book arts, it's nice to have a little room to move around. But,
there have to be a few morsels to chew on as well - somewhere between being
beaten over the head with a proscribed experience and being led into a wide
open desert with nothing to get a handle on. Work can be very specific to
personal experience and actually be more universal than imagined. O.k., easy
to say, usually tough to accomplish.


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