Finding Art in Found Objects

Most people don’t give much of a second thought when they are ready to toss out that old laundry detergent bottle, the old rusty cheese grater, or even the legs of that late 1980s kitchen table that should probably no longer exist. That is, unless you’re one of the artists currently displaying work at the Marion Art Center’s latest show “Found Objects,” running from March 2 through April 14.

As MAC Executive Director Kimberly Teves called it, this show certainly is “different.”

The art that comprises this early spring exhibition at the MAC is rubbish. Literally, absolute trash. But in a good way.

All the works have been created using the discarded, the unwanted, the familiar “somebody’s trash, another’s treasure.” These artists’ medium of expression is ‘upcycled’ and repurposed objects and materials they found in places like flea markets, second-hand stores, and yard sales, like Joan Hausrath’s pieces.

In the lower gallery and also upstairs, it’s impossible to avoid eye contact with Hausrath’s several pieces – assemblies of doll parts, bits of household items and appliances, and old yard sale finds. With an eye for discovering both the ordinary and the unique in an object, she painstakingly transforms them into something that walks a fine line between whimsical and wince-worthy. Her ‘dolls’ possess a duality of both cute and creepy.

Hausrath said she found inspiration for her dolls when she saw the works of a sculptor in Mexico, finding fascination with her use of found objects. After her first creation, she couldn’t resist making more, having found so much enjoyment in both the finding of the pieces and the construction of them.

“I did not want the figures to look too ‘cute,’ but rather a bit edgy,” said Hausrath, “which is why the porcelain doll heads have no hair and are ‘antiqued.’”

The antiquated look, she said, resulted when she visited the house of a recluse on a tiny island outside Mexico City. Outside, dolls and doll parts hung from tree and shrubs, really macabre stuff, Hausrath said.

“When I construct the dolls, I do not think about how others will respond. I make them to delight myself,” said Hausrath. “I want each one to be unique in attitude or persona and quirky.”

Hausrath said she witnesses people picking favorites for their own personal reasons, but others simply focus on identifying the various bits and parts that make up the doll.

“And some people are grossed out by them!” said Hausrath.

All of the figures are born from the inspiration she gets from the individual parts, Hausrath said.

“Once I put a couple of objects together, I get a sense of the direction that the piece will take. Sometimes I finish figures quickly from my inventory of “stuff,” and other times the figures remain unfinished until I find just the right bits to finish them, which means going on treasure hunts to thrift stores, antique shops, and yard sales.”

Other pieces came into existence on the beach at low tide, like Marion resident Bo Burbank’s work.

Burbank’s massive mixed media dominates the lower gallery, and while composed with color, texture, and scale in mind for an aesthetic piece, it’s a depressing reminder of what is happening to our oceans as a result of man’s predilection for the disposable. Still, Burbank’s desire is to leave the viewer’s interpretation of his work open in the spirit of art “giving people a deeper connection to their inner soul.”

Gallery hours at the Marion Art Center are Tuesday-Friday, 1:00 – 5:00 pm, and Saturday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. The MAC is located at 80 Pleasant Street in Marion, and more information can be found by visiting

Says the MAC: “Come see what sort of ‘object trouvé’ will catch your eye!”

By Jean Perry

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