Play-doh is the medium that will be used for this art project proposal. This medium seems
something that anyone can try to do easily, so that intrigued me, so that is why it was chosen for
this project. Eleanor Macnair is the artist that I have chosen for this project. Her work involves
recreating photographs using play-doh and has been featured in many exhibitions, including the
Atlas Gallery and the Paul Kopeikin. In 2016, McNair was featured in a Juxtapoz in Iconic
Photographs Recreated with Play-Doh. I liked that she described her artwork as post-modern
reappropriation because McNair did not feel she had a good idea, so she borrowed inspiration
from the iconic photographs. This way of thinking can help many artists, including myself, who
sometimes feel they hit a creative brick wall or feel they have no muse. I think what counts is
that doing makes you more successful than not doing.
In her blog, McNair calls her tools amateur. She uses play-doh, a chopping board, a
scalpel, and an empty wine bottle to be used as the rolling pin. The key aspects that McNair
wants us to focus on with her work are that as we view so many pictures in our daily lives, we
quickly scan the pictures for the information we seek and then move on. With her play-doh art,
she wants the audience to slow down and pay attention to details that they might have missed the
first time with famous photographs or uncover underrated photographs that not many have seen.
The artwork will begin by selecting a photograph, either famous or obscure, to recreate.
Then one has to have quite a few tubs of play-down in various colors to begin. McNair combines
a lot of play-doh as uses the wine bottle to begin flattening the play-doh. She shapes the play-doh
with her hands and uses the scalpel to cut the play-doh. It takes a couple of hours to complete
each play-doh art photograph, and she spends hours looking at the photograph, and each time
claims she sees something she missed the first time she saw the photograph, like the gesture of a
hand or a wave in the hair, etc.
McNair likes using play-doh because she
says it is vulgar, bright, and tacky, so to make art of
it is really interesting. It is taking a complex idea
and making it a straightforward idea. She likes that
you do not have to art speak about the play-doh as
you would in art museums about certain works of
art. play-doh is simply “it is what it is.” Just like the
images on Instagram are disposable, McNair throws away the models after photographing them
because they are disposable too.
To make this art: select a photograph, select the play-doh, flatten, mold, shape the playdoh, cut the play-doh and recreate the photograph as best as possible with your play-doh and
Gather materials—1 hour
Cut and shape play-doh to different sizes. 6 hours
Place them over a ceramic sheet. 5 hours
Affix the play-doh a stationary board. 6 hours
Total project will span 5-7 days, this will depend on the quality of the material.
ELEANOR MACNAIR. (n.d.). https://eleanormacnair.com/.
1000Londoners. (2017, September 14). Londoner #230 Eleanor MacNair transforms Play-Doh
into beautiful pictures. YouTube.
Lesser, C. (2018, May 18). This Artist Uses Play-Doh to Meticulously Recreate Famous
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