The true beauty of art is within its versatility. The artist’s intention is within their art, but the art is subject to the interpretation of the viewer. Most art is intentional, with each artist having a clear picture of what they desire to convey in their own minds and expressing itself through their medium.
But, on occasion, art does “just happen.” Something is discovered in nature and duplicated to move the soul, an artist randomly lashes out in frustration and what is created is beautiful. And, often the case with art, the intention is borne out during the creation. In many cases (including those of personal experience) the direction the artist begins takes massive detours and ends in a completely different place.
As for if art must be representational to be considered art, the only answer I have is that art is always representational. If art did not represent something, would we desire to create it at all. Art is representation. Whether it is representing something true or something theoretical or even a transient emotion, there is always a message. Art is not created to mean nothing, and even if it is, the nothing still engenders a thought in the viewer, and a thought is a thing. Art is always creating, always representing, a persistent event, as it were.
What is my definition of art? Art is any outward manifestation of humanity, through whatever medium and voice is chosen. Art is the expression of the soul, what we cannot say and have understood in words, we turn to art. Art illuminates what we are, shapes who we are, and tells the story of who we are and where we’ve been and what we have done. Art is the true chronicle of history, in the scope of the world and the single human life.