A Theme for the Blog—With Thanks to George Beylerian
Almost as soon as I began thinking what I might write about, I realized that the economy would have a large impact on the various ideas and stories expressed here; as it does across nearly all avenues of life today.
Fortunately, George Beylerian—founder and CEO of Material ConneXion, articulated a theme that expresses the dynamic between the ideal of pursuing “pure” art or design and the reality of tying that pursuit to the everyday. For George Beylerian, Material ConneXion “romances the intellectual with the commercial.”
The word “romances” is such a beautiful term. George could easily have said that Material ConneXion integrates or aligns, or represents a collaboration between the intellectual and the commercial. But he didn’t. “Romances” is a decisive choice on his part, one that reflects George’s ability to deploy a term that teases us into thinking in a new way about a conventional concept—the relationship between something we pursue for the love of the thing itself and the everyday.
The romancing of these two realms may help explain why one of my favorite paintings is Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi (after all, who are those Wise Men?) and one of my favorite literary works is Hamlet. Both of these works are monuments of their type, and both romance the connection between the commercial, and the intellectual. Indeed, almost any work one might think of—whether David Kendall’s McKinley Chair, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the operas of Mozart, the songs of Bob Dylan, the oeuvre of Lady Gaga—represent a marriage of these seemingly opposed realms of the commercial and the intellectual. We do a disservice as educators when we try to pretend that a human effort does not involve us in this “romancing.”
It is with this romance that I have and will continue to have an ongoing affair. Over time this romancing has become increasingly obvious to me as I have had the chance to talk with recent and older alumni, with people in business (Douglas Lydon, for example), and with art and design educators about the challenge of being artists and designers in this economic climate. For some, this is not the first bad economy they have survived; for others, this economy has shaken any planning they may have done or caused them to define any future they imagined for themselves, forcing a reconsideration of how one pursues this romancing of intellect and commerce. As I see it, the variety of ways people are carrying out this romance will be an interesting thing to observe indeed. Both for myself, and for the community at large.
So stay tuned.