recycled art upcycling

Artists are certainly familiar with the creative concept of “found objects” as a way to turn ordinary items, perhaps through only minimal manipulation, into art.

As an artistic creative concept, the idea of using found objects is nearly one hundred years old and has been embraced by Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, and Man Ray, among others.
A Ginormous Found Object with Creative Possibilities
While I’ve painted pictures on old bathroom cabinet doors and created a sculpture from a baseball bat, wire, and wooden hangers, I’d never really thought about finding creative possibilities with incredibly large scale found object art. That was until a story in the Kansas City Star about a local artist named Stretch (aka Jeff Rumaner) who spotted a huge truss, originally intended to stretch across a suburban intersection for lighting, abandoned by the side of the street.
The enormous truss was damaged during installation and placed on the ground awaiting its removal at some future time. When Stretch saw the truss (which originally cost $875,000), however, he approached the city government in Lenexa, KS with an idea for turning the broken metal into a sculpture. The city government was receptive and even solicited other ideas for how the current eyesore could be turned into something with beautiful creative possibilities.
What an intriguing example of what I suspect might be one of the largest and most expensive found object art pieces created in the past century!
Extending Found Objects into Daily Creativity
The Kansas City Star story was compelling enough to inspire a drive to Lenexa that day to have an in-person look at the truss. Beyond snapping some pictures, my first question was what gift Stretch has to be able to see art in two pieces of metal barely visible from the intersection where they now sit? The next thought was about the value in extending the idea of found objects into our everyday lives and daily creativity.


Yuken Teruya


harley davidson motorcycle

What potential are we missing in “found” people, situations, ideas, and other things that present themselves in unusual, veiled, or unexpected ways? And how do we open ourselves up to spotting the possibilities in all these found “objects” placed in front of us every day?


collage recycled art

Finally, the visit prompted ten creativity questions to keep top of mind to inspire looking for possibilities in found people ideas, and objects:ghost of marilyn

  1. Will part of this still work?
  2. Can this be adapted to work for the original purpose?
  3. Can it be made a part of something new?
  4. Is this a puzzle piece to fit something I’m working on currently?
  5. Does this get something started that’s been languishing?
  6. What else might this inspire me to create?
  7. Can this be a part of something very different that satisfies an existing need?
  8. Can this be part of something that creates a new need?
  9. Can this be turned into something else entirely?
  10. Is this a resource or input for something else that needs to be done?

Do You See Found Objects with Creative Possibilities? How adept are you in finding creative possibilities in the found objects you see (or might be currently missing) daily?


kyle bean


recycled art

If you go overboard asking these questions, you might wind up on a hoarding reality TV show with a house full of objects laden with future possibilities. So perhaps pick only one or two of these questions and see if you can strike a balance for finding more creative possibilities in the found people, ideas, and objects you encounter daily.
Guest author/artist: Mike Brown is an award-winning innovator and speaker in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He the founder of The Brainzooming Group, which helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. He authors the daily BrainzoomingTM blog and the eBook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation.”
Mike, thanks for being such a great Twitter friend and for sharing this unique post that inspires recycling! I love your tweets too…. ~Lori 🙂
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