Earth Day is coming up, and it's a great reminder to get creative with our art supplies, re-using things we already have around the house, or go on walk exploring and looking for interesting things to incorporate in our art.
We keep a "junk bin" in our art area and toss in scraps of paper, bits of cardboard, string, yarn, magazine clippings, shopping bags… basically anything left over from other projects or things we might otherwise recycle or throw away that still have some life in them.
The “junk bin” is a fun source of inspiration when we occasionally get it out and get busy creating with what we have. At first it can feel like a bit of a limitation, but limitations in art (and life) can sometimes be strangely freeing. Once you resign yourself to using what’s in front of you, a mindset shift occurs, and suddenly you see endless possibilities.
Robert Rauschenberg was a master of using found objects in his art to make some really interesting compositions. He would pick up trash he found on the street, use pages ripped from the phone book, photographs, and even 3 dimensional objects like spoons. He would affix the objects to his canvas, and paint or screenprint over them to create a layered effect.
He used found objects in his work to create a conversation about life and art. His work blurs the lines between everyday objects and fine art. He asks us to consider why something is called art. What makes it art? What is the role of the artist if he has the ability to put trash from the street on a canvas and suddenly it’s seen as art and not trash?
These are all really interesting topics to discuss with your kids while you’re making your collages.
I recently came across some Rauschenberg art at the Norton Simon Museum that did the exact opposite of his usual inclusion of found objects. These pieces were painstakingly recreated exact replicas of some flattened cardboard boxes he found in an alley dumpster in Los Angles. Instead of using the actual boxes, he hand painted all the typography and imagery to make duplicates of what he found. It's an interesting commentary on "the gap between art and life" that he constantly considered in his work.
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It’s simple! Collect some found objects and use them to make art. You can attach them to a canvas and paint over them, or make a sculpture. Use your imagination, and think about why you are making this art. Is it a statement about environmentalism and protecting the earth. Does it have something to do with the specific objects you chose to use? Older kids can explore issues of commercialism, consumerism, and society.
Have fun and remember to share your art on Instagram and tag #arthistorykids.
Let me know how you and your kids liked this project! I love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below, find me on social media or send me an email.