Contemporary artists are known for stepping outside of the box when it comes to art creation. Many artists work with materials that seem strange and unrelated to art. The use of nontraditional materials to create art can, however, increase the sentiment of a piece. In Vietnam, artist Nguyen Phuong Linh experimented with using Vietnamese sea salt as a material from which to create sculptures and other installation pieces.
Nguyen Phuong Linh, Melting, 2009 (Mountains, 2009, in the background)
In her use of salt, Linh reflects upon the life of the salt harvesters, the cruelty of nature in the salt harvesting process, and the use of Vietnamese salt in the nation’s society and economy. Each piece speaks to much more than the forms that they are molded into.
Canadian artist, Steven Spazuk, too, is creating art with unconventional materials. He is using soot to complete in his paintings. While charcoal has been used as a drawing tool for ages, Spazuk is using the actual flame of a candle or a torch to create soot directly on the surface of his paintings.
Steven Spazuk, Orange Face, 2007, oil and soot on gesso board, http://www.spazuk.net
Using new materials to express themselves is popular among contemporary artists. Visiting a contemporary exhibition and realizing that a work of art is more than what it seems is invigorating and one of the exciting features of the art of our time.