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We would find beauty in everything around us if only we stopped to look for it. But immersed as we are in a virtual reality and bombarded with an assortment of goods, we hardly notice the objects around us—the everyday quotidian “things” like crates and palettes that we use, discard, and forget. NY artist Michael Zelehoski has taken it upon himself to carry out some image makeovers and represent these “humble,” “unseen,” and “neglected” objects in avatars that we would be forced to notice and appreciate. Zelehoski wants to recreate physical reality to influence how we interact with it.

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Zelehoski’s Modus Operandi

Michael Zelehoski picks ups discarded utilitarian objects, usually palettes and police barricades, hacks them into pieces, and puts them back together in a 2D space in a way that they look like 3D representations. He doesn’t slap together the pieces. Instead, Zelehoski clamps and glues them side-by-side to create a jigsaw puzzle-like piece. He fills the empty spaces in between with wood, painted usually in black or white, to give a solid background to his creations. It is almost as if Zelehoski takes forgotten objects from reality, deconstructs them, and recreates them in new forms only to trap them in another plane that mocks at their former selves.

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Zelehoski’s anti-sculptures are intriguing to gaze at and that’s exactly what the artist had intended for his creations to achieve. By giving new forms and backgrounds to neglected and forgotten objects and showcasing them in a gallery, the artist wants us to forget their humble origins and look beyond their mere utilitarian value or perception as something that has outlived its use to discover their aesthetic appeal.

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For a generation that has come to be defined by its obsession with selfies and a penchant for accumulating stuff—the fallout of a consumerist culture—Zelehoski’s art has a message and a lesson to teach. He wants us to discover the hidden beauty in objects and appreciate it. He wants to wrench us out of the bubble of virtual (imaginary) reality that we surround ourselves with and makes us see and appreciate the reality around us in new light.

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Zelehoski’s Motivation and the “Purpose” in His Art

It seems that Michael Zelehoski abhors stuff. Unfortunately, that is what marketers these days hoodwink us into buying and hoarding. So we keep filling our lives with junk without ever appreciating the true worth of things or seeing the beauty that is inherent in each and every object. Zelehoski wants his art to solve two problems.

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First, by refusing to create new images and art objects, he wants to spare the world an overload of visual data. Then by removing objects from the physical environment, he wants to declutter the world around, one run-down palette or a twisted barricade at a time.

Secondly, by hacking away at the objects and stripping them of their utility, Zelehoski wants us to learn to see things for what they are and not what they can do for us. He wants us to discover the inherent value in objects instead of merely agreeing to society’s perception of what is “valuable.”

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Using just a table saw for a tool, Michael Zelehoski is trying to hack away at the layers of perceived reality to reveal what is “really real.”

Currently his art is displayed at the Mike Weiss Gallery in NYC.

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All photos courtesy of the Mike Weiss Gallery.