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Lynne Merchant

Altered Book:

The Evolution of Useful Things, Henry Petroski (1992)

Acrylic paintings.

Artist Statement

In this book, I imagined images of objects during the evolution of ideas before they were completely useful, following the title of the book “The evolution of useful things.” For me, innovation is sparked by the aim of less swearing and less frustration and time spent on a job. Evolution evokes objects that mate with previous object ideas and give birth to objects advancing the ease of jobs. I define the uselessness of an object by what would make an object frustrating to use or incapable of doing the job or harder to use than an alternate idea. 

The first thing I learned in physics is to find the simplest solution to a phenomenon even if it seems impossible. I’m drawn to ideas beyond my comprehension that compel me to figure them out and with my art experiences, I'm drawn to figurative gestures. This gave birth to walking hammers, zippers that don’t zip, and overly engineered window wipers. There is a painting for each chapter, taking one object declared useful in the chapter and reimagining it. 

Short Bio

I have a doctorate in physics from 2001, currently computer programming, and a love of art from birth. I’ve been creating art since I was a kid but not steadily due to school and having major depression. I’ve concentrated on figure drawing, my main source of art training, because it’s wonderful for learning to see proportions, shapes, and especially gestures, the life force of a model pose. This translates into everything I create. I enjoy the process of art, the feeling of pencil on paper, paint on canvas, and an inner focus on creation over product, but at the same time challenging myself to draw and paint more freely and to capture more feeling and movement of whatever I decide to draw and paint. I’m currently drawing chickens. 

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