Duchamp's urinal was an early example of "found art" -- finding beauty, meaning or inspiration from ordinary things, often things left behind or discarded after serving a previous use. Found art has become a favorite media for sculptors, jewelry makers and even photographers and painters.
I was never into found art so I walked through most of my life scorning junk stores, garage sales and places where discarded and used up items go to die. I've moved so often that carting around a bunch of stuff that had no immediate use wasn't very practical. That began to change when I realized I could take pictures of interesting stuff and not actually have to pack it on my back from place to place.
But, when I began to do mosaics, photographs were no longer enough … I needed the physical stuff and everything started calling to me … broken plates, old light fixtures, rusty gizmos whose purpose I will never know. Now I have a garage full of stuff and it's creeping into nooks and crannies everywhere.
Opening up to looking beyond the surface of something is an interesting experience. Suddenly, everything looks different … everything has potential … everything matters. Things begin to speak … calling me to play with them … suggesting new combinations … morphing and inspiring.
This morning it occurred to me that life is found art. Stuff comes to us … some rusty and bent … some shiny and bright … and it's our choice as to whether we weave it into the tapestry of our lives … or toss it away … or even walk past it not recognizing its potential. A great deal of the found art of our lives comes from people: family, friends, the quick sales interaction in a department store, a fragment of conversation heard while walking down the street.
When we begin to notice these fleeting moments … not as something immediately practical designed to serve us … but rather, as bits of bright glass and rusty parts that help us create a new work of art … our lives … we start to accept our role as artist … creator … of this experience called life. Each work of art is unique and special, made up from what comes our way, what we notice along the way, what we find that inspires us and brings meaning into our lives.
About this image: Brick Wall, Pearl Street Mall, Boulder
This found art wall reminds me that we can create art anywhere.