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Is Lorimoto Redefining the Line Between Fine Art and Graphic Design?

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Visual essays by Debbie Millman (All photos by Katie Killary for Bushwick Daily)

 

The technology behind computer generated art was originally intended for the manufacture and design of aeronautics, automobiles and airplanes. No one knew this technology would change the way we create art and communicate. And so within the realm of graphic design, artists began to explore inside of an unlimited field, creating images beyond the capacity of other mediums.

While there has been uncertainty in where you draw the line between art and computer-generated art, this is not a new line being blurred. We’ve seen this overlap over the last several decades, especially with the inclusion of type and commercial elements (think pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and later picture generation artists like Barbara Kruger). Now fine art and design meet at a new crossroads along the Bushwick/Ridgewood border inside of Lorimoto Gallery in the current group exhibition, Undefined by Design, on view until May 18th. With this show, designer and curator Brian LaRossa takes a step forward in the design world, though not in an attempt to define that line mentioned above, but rather to contemplate and value it.

As we’ve seen, graphic designers gain inspiration from the world of fine art, while traditional artists simultaneously benefit from the modern design realm. Fine art today is informed by graphic design, yet designers seek to be regarded as fine artists. LaRossa explains,

"Graphic design has a tradition of references to fine art, whether we call them inspiration or theft. The relationship between the two fields is a fruitful and uneasy symbiosis. Institutionally, though, a distinction is assumed: design is not art."

LaRossa's assemblage of visionary designers all share his drive in exploring the line between art and design, with a mix of computer-generated works and handcrafted pieces, ranging from large-scale typographic treatments to mediums ranging from chrome to window blinds.

As a Graphic Designer myself, I wanted to see how Undefined by Design worked in a fine art space in this neighborhood. Many spaces out here have shown work that draw inspiration from modern design, but haven't been as forthright about it. Undefined by Design celebrates this bold mesh, and could it possibly be setting the ground for more design-based art exhibitions in the area? As Bushwick becomes more widely revered for its artistic growth, could this show bring staying power to the conversation that it started?

In bringing to light the historical context of modern and traditional interplay, a new forecast of possibilities revealed itself as Brian and I discussed the show's very apt setting in the burgeoning Bushwick /Ridgewood arts scene.  It turns out the fact that the show is happening here, now, has more to do with the setting than originally conceived. The neighborhood is full of mutli-dimensional artists who alternate between fine art and professional design, and is bound to expand and encompass a larger group who will exhibit as well.

Those of you who moonlight as graphic designers/digital artists by day (a la corporate office settings in Times Square, like I do) then escape to your artistic escapades on nights and weekends: let me know if you want to keep this conversation going. Where else have you seen design shows? Do you know of fine art + design exhibitions coming this Summer in Bushwick, Ridgewood or anywhere else? Keep me posted, and for now enjoy a few captures of the April 11th opening of Undefined by Design and catch it at Lorimoto Gallery through May 18th!

Mike Perry 'Lamp 1'

Juan Carlos Pagan, 'Look Twice' acrylic on window blinds.

Paul Soulellis 'LaRossa Mix' – an 8-page takeaway newsprint.

'Orange Cloud' and 'Dutch View' Giclee prints by Milton Glaser

Chris Rubino 'Vanishing Future' acrylic on wood.

Opening night of 'Undefined by Design' at Lorimoto Gallery (all photos by Katie Killary for Bushwick Daily)

Undefined by Design is on view at Lorimoto Gallery, 16-23 Hancock Street in Ridgewood, through May 18. Gallery hours are Saturday & Sunday, 1-6 pm.

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