Gallery: Artists Use Dirt, Dust and Grime as Their Medium for a New Exh...

Dirt is used in possibly the most artful way by Catherine Bertola. The artist is known for her subtractive pieces- where she removes dirt from buildings to create images and patterns. For the Museum of Art and Design, she created an imperial patterned wall paper, made entirely from dust and dirt, challenging our thoughts on what comprises beauty and design.

Artist Zhang Huan often uses the ash from incense burned in Buddhist temples in his work. Cast into sculptures of busts and religious figures, Huan loves the impermanence of the material. As time passes, the sculptures gradually deteriorate, as the ash softens and returns to the air.

The delicately spun skull in the exhibition is made from a material we are all familiar with- household dust! The artist, Paul Hazelton, gathers his materials from actual places around the house- furniture, hanging pictures, and in corners. Using water, he is able to mold the dust into unique sculptures.

“Murder” is the name of Maskull Lasserre’s installation of black crow sculptures. The blackened sculptures are made from burned wood. The charred wood material refers to the artist’s title for the piece, turning a dead material into sculpture. Renditions of vultures would only be more appropriate.

The grid of organized rocks and dirt seem more like a geological display than art. Designed by Margaret Boozer, the piece, “Correlation Drawing/Drawing Correlations,” is a sample of dirt from the five boroughs, organized into complex maps of their origin location and strata.

Los Angeles resident Kim Abeles challenges the idea of smog in her city. When hearing many of her contemporaries calling the condition to be just fog, she decided to put it to the test, by creating art from smog. Abeles lays items on her roof, sometimes for weeks or months, and lets the smog do its work, leaving stencils of evidence.


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