Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Accidental Art

Printer ink, and water on paper
Printer ink and water on paper
Printer ink and water on paper

 I LOVE ALL ART––high art, low art, and even accidental art such as my car's GPS screen when I'm driving along hill, dale and curvy river; decaying, termite-ridden wood; rust (my favorite); a NYC manhole cover of a certain vintage, a splattered spill of tomato soup; or shadows cast through a wrought iron railing.

While studying such accidental art as an undergraduate at Parsons, much to the dismay of passersby, I used to photograph the contents of garbage cans (giving the Ashcan School a whole new meaning). Mercifully, I obtained artistic results with no rearranging at all. Upon viewing my "ashcan art," Professor Kiokawa used to ask in sheer and utter bewilderment, "Ms. McLaughlin, your concept is garbage?" "No," I would reply, "My concept is accidental art." This brings me to the point of my query today: Can a Poland Spring water bottle make art?

Last night I was looking at some inkjet prints of my photographic images in bed before falling asleep. (I know ... exciting life, right?) When I finished with them, I placed them in a stack on my bedside table. Then I had a sip of water from my ubiquitous pacifier, a Poland Spring water bottle. Sans coaster and so as not to leave a ring on the marble-topped table, I placed the bottle on top of the stack of prints.

Overnight, while I was merely dreaming of art, that plastic bottle sweated out six colorful, well-composed abstract "works on paper." Its medium was condensation mixed with printer ink. I think the art it produced is exciting–for a neophyte bottle. The condensation bled out through the entire stack and left its artistic mark on the back of every one of the prints. It also improved the image of the top print, rendering it more dynamic.

The point, of course, is that art is all around us. Some of it needs to have the content/meaning removed, but much of the most excruciatingly exquisite art, such as rust or fungi, is naturally-occurring and untouched by human hands.

Because of the watery mishap with my computer prints, I no longer think of my pacifier as a mere water bottle. It is now my protege. So in answer to today's query: Yes, my protege, a Poland Spring water bottle can make art. See for yourself.

Come to think of it, an etched ring on marble might not have looked so bad either–kind of hard to hang, though.

17 comments:

  1. Heart in the ValleyOctober 15, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    OMG! Heard you are getting a one person show at Good News Cafe Gallery. In two rooms,no less! That is the most wonderful news!

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  2. Brilliant! Love it! Might use the concept to create some new textile designs! Keep On!

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  3. AJC I guess the technique my water bottle used was something like a tie dying approach.

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  4. Love the art story, how fun!

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  5. I always thought of you as an accidental artist waiting for something to happen. Now you sleep though your work, while it is happening without your control. Collecting your works when you wake up. Most people sleep at night and then go to work in the morning, but you, as brilliant as you are, have come up with yet another concept of art. Fantastic, sleepyhead!

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  6. A hard-working artist needs her sleep and needs to catch a break once in a while!

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  7. Here is a link about Lee Hadwin, an artist who paints while he is sleeping http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/09/02/1533207/man-becomes-artist-when-he-sleeps

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  8. Let sleeping artists lie.

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  9. Let's face it, your genetic engineering is made up of squashed ectoplasmic ameba running a muck, but I love you anyway!

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  10. Very pretty. I am feeling Easter in this one.

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  11. Dino - the pretty accident is condensation from a water bottle that ran through magazine pages on to drawing paper while I slept.

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  12. Shhh Do not tell anyone. I would put a hefty price on that beauty. Also start spilling water on magazines every night.

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  13. I like it. Reminds me of works I saw in the Aldrich which were formed by iron filings rolled up in wet canvas and allowed to rust. This is just as appealing...or more so.

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  14. There is something very appealing about it. Keep having art accidents!

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  15. I just read and loved this blog post. Accidental art is my new motto!

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