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Lesson Plans

MEANING: intention

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
brenda jones (oxydol)
Sun, 14 Feb 1999 12:42:19 -0600

We have been discussing what size might mean in art work. I am also curious
about intention. I have students who will certainly complete any assignment
given, but have in their heads or hearts a belief about what art should be.
That is to say, they have certain ideas about intentions in art works. Some of
my students, although accepting of different works of art, really do believe
that art should be highly representational. The more photographic in
appearance, the better. Others create things that are functional, they might
make a piece of furniture for example and want it to look nice, but really see
it as something to use. There are the students who see their works as
expressing emotions or feelings. This is often through color and arrangement,
etc. Finally I have students who just seem to like to manipulate colors,
shapes, lines, etc. They don't create "pictures" of anything, they just like
to manipulate. Admittedly, these students work outside of their viewpoints and
the boundaries between these viewpoints is fuzzy (which is good, I think).
Nonetheless, I wonder about discussing intention in works that are so called
design oriented or "formalist". It seems to me that we speak of colors as
having different meanings: red might be intense, blue is cool, etc. Shapes,
too, have meaning. An organic shape is softer than a geometric shape. So, a
formalist work would seem to me to have expressive content even if so called
intention wasn't there. It seems to me that I once had an art history prof who
was comparing the works of Tony Smith and Barnett Newman (among others). When
discussing Newman, he talked of spiritual content. But, he said, Smith was
making cubes, for example, and that was all they were meant to be: cubes. Yet,
a cube might have a different feel or meaning than something organic.
Sometimes the formalist/expressivist outlooks are hard to explain, I think.