Archive for the “Found objects”/articles Category

Treasure hunt: a work in process. Looking for letters in the sky/ on the ground for Noam’s “found” alphabet!

Posted in "Found objects"/articles, alphabet on December 22, 2016 by Betsy Lahaussois

And this is just the beginning…it is impossible to stop once you find an unexpected letter B in a tree. I might be the one who learns to read in the process!…..





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“Now I know my ABC’s, tell me what you think of me!”


Rolling the dice

Posted in "Found objects"/articles, mixed media, recycling, stitches, textiles on May 1, 2016 by Betsy Lahaussois

I have just been off on an extraordinary course with Matthew Harris, called From Parts to a Whole. Each of us brought along something with soft and hard elements to deconstruct, play with using “chance operations”, draw around and print with, and finally to make into something else. It was liberating putting aside our usual decision making habits, not to mention media, and taking orders from the dice!

I’d found a couple of cheap plastic cameras at the flea market, and borrowed a set of mechanic’s tools from my grandson for taking them apart. It took all of the first morning to locate and remove the tiny screws,  disassemble, and sort the contents into piles.


Here is a much used “thing” made of several dice-selected camera elements including film cover, film, tiny screws and printed circuits.


After a day or two I got tired of inky fingernails and tiny plastic parts, and started investigating the other “found object” I’d brought along –a friend’s well worn Chinese slippers.



It was clear they had potential–look at the colorful cloth layers making up the shredded sole! I almost hesitated to take such beautiful objects apart.




But the dice said, “DO it!”. Leslie lent me a seam ripper, and friends from neighboring tables offered clippers, pliers, threads and a wicked needle, bandaids (!)….


I distributed the contents of both soles on a well used linen tea towel, and “trapped” them on the surface with rows of running stitch. This–like removing the paint from an old door–always takes much more time than you expected, but I enjoyed the next couple of “down days”, stitching back and forth, listening to the chatter around me, catching whiffs of garlic as Jude made lunch…


As the end approached, Matthew helped me rip off the linen hem still partly visible at the edges–there is a not so fine line between Art Brut and Home Decorating!

I am home now after an extremely interesting five days, looking at the stuff in our recycling bin with a new eye, and eager to give Chance a more decisive role in my art making! Inspired by Richard Serra, I am thinking of assigning an “action” (tear, rumple, print, fold, reverse, etc) to each of the 52 cards in a deck, and just drawing a card next time I get to a creative impasse.

If you have a chance to go to a Matthew Harris workshop, don’t miss it!…


Symbols are not so universal!

Posted in "Found objects"/articles on March 7, 2009 by Betsy Lahaussois


   I rediscovered an article I was struck by a few years ago, tucked into the back of an old sketchbook. The FAO had sent a professional artist as part of a training team to Burkina Faso to illustrate training pamphlets, with unexpected results!

“…To the extension agents, and of course the artist, the meaning of the drawings had been clear and unequivocal. But the interpretation of these images by local people differed enormously; in fact, it was apparent that the drawings, especially when presented out of the context of the planned extension message, were virtually undecipherable, or simply failed to convey the intended message. What to the extension agents the artist (and the author of this article) was clearly a black and white line drawing of a tree was interpreted by the local people as a road, with the lines in the tree crown interpreted as worms; a drawing of a cow seen from above was seen as a spirit, and a dangerous one at that; a syringe was often perceived as a bicycle pump; a cow tethered to a stake was an elephant; the horizon line in a drawing was seen as a boundary between two fields; a stream which continued past the edge of the paper was a porcupine; an improved beehive became a suitcase; a man falling from a tree was a man sleeping on the ground; a cross to signify negation was a pair of sticks….” 

Read more!  ambiguous-symbols