The incorporation of found, “non-art” materials into artworks is generally regarded as a modern approach, dating to the early 1900s. The artist may alter these objects for use in their work, but the original appearance is often retained to some degree to construct layers of meaning. As the home of North America’s largest contemporary craft collection, RAM also houses numerous works created from found materials—candy, clothespins, dollar bills, postcards, tools, zippers, and more.
Artists gravitate towards using found objects for numerous reasons: the objects may suggest another time or space; encourage a reconsideration of something familiar; reflect concerns with consumption and the environmental effects of mass production; and/or draw on personal, historical, political, social, or pop culture references.
Drawn entirely from RAM’s collection, this exhibition—and the one that replaces it in the fall—highlights artists that repurpose materials originally intended for a use other than art. The exhibitions support RAM’s Zero Waste Art Initiative, an ongoing and multi-faceted project encouraging reconsideration of consumption habits and creative solutions for reuse. As outlined by RAM’s Education Department, this initiative “is working to establish partnerships with local businesses and manufacturing plants to reduce their waste and keep it out of landfills by turning these materials into educational, eco-art.”
Artists in the Exhibition
Jerry Bleem, Susie Colquitt, Tara K. Daly, Linda Dolack, Robert W. Ebendorf, John J. Grant, Kathleen Holmes, Judith Hoyt, Janice Lowry, Wendy Maruyama, Zoe Morrow, Judy Mulford, Noa Nadir, Joy Raskin, Takako Saito, Norman Sherfield, Karyl Sisson, Kiff Slemmons, Lenore Tawney, Billie Jean Theide, Josette Urso, Ellen Wieske, David Williamson, and Roberta Williamson