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From the "Is this Art?" File:
essay by Diannek

This is "Clean Up Your Room" -- a found-art collage of items that the artist, Ryan McDougal, collected and glued to a 4'x4' mounting board. Although this photo does not do it justice, on closer inspection one can find playing cards, Coke cans, stray clothing, small toys, crayons, books -- all the assorted "junk" found scattered around the floor on the day the artist finally cleaned up. It even lights up. But, we ask: Is it Art?

ART?
Is it art?
Yes: it's Found Art

Here's a definition for Found Art that I found on eppraisals.com: Found art, generally defined, is artwork made from everyday objects taken out of one context and put into another.

Found art collections are eclectic, ranging from artistic displays of everyday objects to elaborate collages of well-known and "authentic" artworks combined into some entirely new piece. I'm reminded of the traveling art show of the vacuum cleaner incased in plastic and the small aquarium filled with floating basketballs, both of which I saw at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. This show traveled around the US, amazing and confounding thousands of viewers. Is it art? Perhaps. (But if you decide to encase your old Hoover in plastic and place it in the living room for everybody to admire, it's not art. The first time somebody dreams it up, it's art. After the fact copies are just kitsch.)

Then there are the "installations" we often see in museums -- common objects, for example plumbing equipment or kitchen gadgets placed into "artistic" settings. Your average bear may not exactly see what the artist is getting at in setting up such displays. Who really knows where the art is?

Artists sometimes get a little carried away with the notion that they can see the art in things that the rest of us cannot. And this may be the core or the essence of "found art." So found-artists make it their life's work to point out what otherwise would go unseen as those of us without their developed eye for art and keen insight into the artistic side of things. As someone once said: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And while we must remember that art is not always meant to be beautiful -- art also is in the eye of the beholder.


Here's Ryan McDougal, the artist. He knew he was making art when he created this piece, but he's not sure what he eventually intends to do with it. Perhaps one day art lovers will see it hanging in a museum, like perhaps the Found-art Room in the Oakland Museum. Trust me, it could happen. Hi Ryan
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