Sep 28, 2011

TREND | Use of Non-Traditonal Materials in Contemporary Art

                                                    Nathan Sawaya, Heartfelt, Legos, 2009

Gazing back to the beginning of sculpture in the art world it is hard to find a piece that broke the trend of sculpting from anything but a metal wood or stone. In contrast, a visit to almost any contemporary art exhibit today reveals a new growing trend in modern contemporary sculpture.  Lately artists have found a way to stretch the boundaries of sculpture by adding an interesting new twist, the use of non-traditional materials.  This new, blooming style of creation has opened the art world to many viewers who may not have been so quick to relate what they see in a gallery to what they see in everyday life.
Nathan Sawaya's sculpture, Heartfelt, is a prime example of using untraditional media in the creation of sculpture. Sawaya is just the first of three artists that i have come across lately that have fallen into this trend. It is very interesting to me how much more captivating a sculpture or image can be if there are  relatable aspects to the work and aside from myself alone this tends to be the case with most contemporary viewers.  Thus being the case the impact of using the media of Legos in particular speaks to a very large audience.  Legos can be found in almost any kids toy collection and are one of the most popular toys world wide.  This being the case makes the material used by Sawaya known to almost everyone, in the art world or out, which gives the work a much more relatable feeling from the start.  Regardless of the content or meaning of the sculpture he starts with an advantage, relate-ability. How much more does something mean to you if it is made from something you know, have felt, seen, played with or even built things out of?
                                                   Andrew Myers, 06, screws and paint, 2009
Moving on to the next artist Andrew Myers is a blast just because his work is just a visually striking as Sawaya's. Once again the artist has chosen to use an untraditional media to create something very potent to the viewer.  It would be tough to find someone on earth today that could not recognize a screw, but when Myers adds the small amounts of paint to each head he is able to create a pixelated image not only through color but with depth. This use of another common object to create a very detailed and striking composition speaks very loudly to me as a viewer.  Myers innovative creations make what would normally be a flat portrait a very dynamic three dimensional sculpture.
                                                  Ian Burns, Well Read, found objects, 2010

Lastly, Ian Burns is by far the most far fetched of the three artists that i have presented. He uses a wide array of common objects found around a typical household to create installation pieces that are packed with information.  Looking beyond the artist's intentions or their personal interpretation of the work is quite easy with Burns's collection. The materials he uses are all familiar to the viewer and allow the viewer to create their own narrative.
This recent boost in the use of non-traditional materials in contemporary art works has not only broadened the scale of materials used but bridged a gap between common known objects and artistic expression. In noticing this trend it is amazing to realize the impact of using known objects in works of art.

-Taylor Williams

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