Perhaps this was one of my favorite activities that was done throughout the entire semester. Every teacher can understand the joy of recycled materials and cheap, simple crafts. This project challenged me to think outside of the box and make the most of the resources that I could find. In the Found Art Project, we were encouraged to design and make a piece of art with materials that were found in nature, in our houses, in the trash, or any kind of natural environment. Art pieces ranged from simple to complex. We were challenged to think in new and creative ways, allowing us to make art out of something we would typically view as ordinary. After we each made our piece of art, we placed it in a public place with an identity tag. Whoever found the piece of art was encouraged to either keep it or move it to another place and then contact us about their experience.
I completed this project towards the end of September when Fall was approaching and the leaves were finally beginning to change colors. I was inspired to create a piece of art that directly related to the change in seasons. My artifact is pictured below. I found a square block of wood in the classroom and chose to paint this with red, orange, and white paints that I found in my room. My intentions were to create an abstract portrayal of a sunset as the background of a wood block. Then, I gathered a variety of small twigs that I found on campus. I cut the twigs into small pieces and glued them on the wooden block in the shape of a tree. I added a few leaves that appeared to be falling off of the branches Lastly, I cut out letters from a magazine and added the quote, “The time when everything bursts with its last beauty…”
When I was finished with the activity, I placed it on a bench in front of Tillman Hall on Clemson University’s campus. The piece was taken in approximately 45 minutes, and another fellow Clemson student emailed me saying that she had decided to take the piece home and add it to her personal art collection.
This activity was very memorable to me for a variety of reasons. It encouraged me to think creatively because my resources were limited, but my expectations and end goals were not limited by this. I was able to create a piece of art about something that I genuinely enjoy. In addition, I saw that art materials do not have to be fancy, expensive, or over the top. Art can be made from something that most people would view as mundane. Lastly, I genuinely loved that someone else was able to make my art their own. By the student taking the piece home, I learned that one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure. I was proud of the art, but I do not think that I loved it enough to add it to my home decor. However, the fellow student thought quite differently. She was absolutely ecstatic about the finding and could not wait to make the piece her own. This demonstrated that art is truly appreciated by some more than others, but regardless of who holds the piece, beauty is found in the eye of the beholder.
In my future classroom, I would love to have my students create a Found Art Project. I feel as if this would teach them to make the most of what they have in their environment, and it would show them to appreciate what their surroundings have to offer. Students would see that art does not have to achieve an insanely completed end goal but instead can be sweet, simple, and to the point. Creativity would be encouraged by all means. This project certainly impacted me, and I would love to see it impact my students in similar ways.