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«The Unintentional Aesthetic»
In my artistic pursuits I have consistently resorted to or sought out objects from common experiences and origins! I have employed these “found objects” as they tweaked my awareness of them and their relevance as compositional components or inspiration for my art. I had always been a collector of stuff. My closet bulged with hats and paraphernalia for decorating them ever, since I was eleven years old and given a room of my own. Prior to that I had made collaged scrapbooks as early as five. And I always made things out of scrap and crap, where forms seemed to emerge conjuring images and entities. Something common among imaginative children but with age I intensified the quest.
As a college art student in the 1960’s “found objects” were suggested early on by my sculpture instructor, John Walker at South West Missouri State College (Missouri State University), as demonstrated in the work of Edward Keinholz, Robert Rauschenberg, and many other pop artists and older artists like Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, and Pablo Picasso. In the sculpture classes we were directed to a local steel yard were scrap and junk was recycled. Much of my early student sculpture work was made of or inspired by this junkyard stuff.
In the here and now I think the issue relates to an earlier relevance and history, which is possessed by these objects or materials. A life experienced before my introduction to the recycled items. An inherent character not found in new materials or store bought items for inclusion in my compositions. Not unlike aging wine or cheese or distressing wood or employing a patina on metal; thus adding the ‘element of time’ or at least its implication as an enhancement. A spirit factor that makes the item I use more unique and suggests prior existence. And when included in a composition of several or at least more then one such element we end up with a group or organization of combined characters or characteristics; like a group of individuals brought together for a unified message or proclamation of unified purpose. Like a movement! Of course, many hands and minds participated in the making of the objects in there initial forms. Other minds conceived and factored the design of the objects. Even in the objects discard there was a conscious thought process selecting, culling and disposing with calculation and energy. A collaboration sitting in a field, on the street or a junk pile patiently waiting for my eye and mind to make a connection and feel the challenge and potential awaiting further exploration.
This all may seem a bit extreme; but think about the time you broke that special ceramic you inherited from mom or grandma. Or that time you lost an heirloom to a whim of fate, an uncontrolled outside force of nature or human intervention. Those things were significant and added to your sum as an individual. When they go missing you experience a sincere sense of loss! And depending on the degree of significance those items had or the importance the individual person or persons you inherited the object from played in your life the deeper the sense of that loss. And you grieve the loss and that grief plays a recurring role in your memory life-long.
Well, what I am attempting here is to convey the emotion I feel when using rejuvenated found objects in my work. Not just an environmental or economic concern but also the fact that I feel the life inherent and symbolized in the object and the mystery of its individuality. My challenge then, is infusing my reason for the effort and energy to execute a composition from conception through the process of creation and fabrication finally taking the responsibility for the decision to declare the new object complete. Complete again, because this is not the first time the compositional elements are a conclusion and serving a purpose. There are internal stories and relationships to life and the universe that were once exemplified by this thing before my introduction to it.At the conclusion of the artwork’s fabrication I have utilized an existing “Unintentional Aesthetic” by grouping found objects and challenging myself to make a visual statement. I have used these “weathered” objects and their history in a combination to produce a unique vision in the present.
Frank Williams. December 2012