Ordinary to Extraordinary

The State Fair

My husband and I recently took our three boys to the Oklahoma State Fair to experience the food, rides and animals (in that order). Despite an incredibly busy and exhausting day, I was able to snag an hour alone to enter one of my favorite realms – the art gallery. This underappreciated building is a hidden gem, housing primarily student (or entirely student?) two- and three-dimensional art.


I scanned the drawings, sculptures and graphic art, but what really captured my attention were the photos.
I’ve always appreciated photography and even dabbled in it a bit (via a college class and my own experimentation), but I find that over time I often fall into the same uninspired rut. The rut is me unable to decide what to photograph as I search for some elusive subject.

Monkey Bars

The beauty of photography is that it takes a three dimensional object or space and morphsit into a two-dimensional image, translating form into shape. With a simple click, instantly a landscape becomes a conglomeration of curves and angles. You’d think that the loss of a dimension would be mean simplification, but often the opposite is true.

Ordinary…or Not?


The photos that inspired me the most were the ones with the simplest of subjects – things I see every day, things so ordinary they could never be art –  or could they? I love these four in particular because they are things I pass by regularly and never recognized as art. A lamp cord. Playground equipment. A merchandise-filled grocery cart. If someone can find art in places so mundane, it leaves me no excuse. I don’t have to travel to a scenic location or organize a photo shoot.

Jungle Gym

Getting to see exhibits like this reminds me that art is all around us – everywhere. I just have to allow my eyes to see it. And it gives me a little kick in the bum that tells me to get back into the game and start doing something – sometimes making art is hard work, after all (and sometimes it’s just incredibly fun).

I’d love to hear your own findings. In what unexpected places have you discovered art?

8 thoughts on “Ordinary to Extraordinary

  • Over the years I have collected many story books written for children. Often, the really good books have remarkable illustrations. You wouldn’t think a book written for child would be well illustrated, but some are very well illustrated. I like Eric Carl’s work. Audrey Wood is another very talented illustrator.

  • My daughter Kimera has made a hobby of photography. She entered a picture in the state fair this year. I really enjoyed walking through the building and looking at all of the photos.

  • No, but this was her first year to enter, and she only entered one photo in one category. Next year she will enter more. Her photo was a Galveston sunset.

  • The ordinary often captures my imagination when I have a camera with me. The monkey bars made me very happy. 🙂 Several years ago I took a picture of a water spigot that, to my surprise, everyone loved. One person remarked that he liked the picture because it reminded him of his childhood and the countless water spigots he’d seen. I almost didn’t take the shot because I thought it was a silly thing to photograph, though I found its form beautiful. I’m glad now that I did! I think some of my best photographs are composed of very ordinary items. 🙂

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