Today SVA’s MFA Design Criticism launches “At Water’s Edge,” the first in the D-Crit Chapbook series. This first volume was edited by Akiko Busch, Saundra Marcel and me, and features 10 essays from the D-Crit graduating class of 2011. You can buy the book on lulu.com or read a review by Alexandra Lange on Design Observer. I am very excited about this project! To celebrate, I share below my contribution to the chapbookâ€””Beyond.”
On the first day of class in September 2003, Antonio QueirÃ³s sat down in front of thirty students at the University of Porto, Portugal, and asked: â€œWhat are the words that define each of you?â€ He proceeded to enumerate this first exercise. Write a list of fifty words that you believe define you. Then reduce it down to three. And then to the one word. You have a week.
Hardly a graphic design exercise, I remember thinking, leaning against a window and trying to evaluate this redheaded forty-something teacher. But then I started my list.
The word I chose was beyond. It sounds pretentious when I say it now, but when I first presented it to class I had the brilliant idea of saying it in Spanishâ€”mas allÃ¡. Much better than the Portuguese version of the word, I thought. More accurate, I believed. It reminded me of a folk tale I had heard in my teenage years, in which a firstborn son digs in vain through the hills of the Iberian Peninsula, searching for his dead fatherâ€™s buried treasure chest. He keeps encountering paper scrolls, every one of them bearing the same messageâ€”mas allÃ¡, go beyond.
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