Chad Wys is an artist, designer, and writer from Illinois. Inspired by postmodern thought, Wys’ works examine the reproduction of the image, and the way plural images—as superficial iterations of an original object—operate on us to suggest a sense of meaning and worth.
This theoretical approach is brilliantly exemplified in Wys’ Readymades series, featured here. The Readymades consist of found busts and ceramics that Wys has adorned with eye-popping colors, bold gradients, and silvery tears. By re-contextualizing objects of “antiquity” with garish, modern color schemes, Wys compels the viewer to contemplate their feelings and values in relation to such objects. He explains further on his website:
“By retooling the object and then re-presenting it for the viewer I intend to elaborate on the conversation that takes place between the observer and the reproduction in its ‘initial’ state. Through the reclamation and manipulation of these objects I mean to acknowledge, to underscore, that our possessions can, and often do, manipulate us.” (Source)
Wys observes how, as markers of class and income, art pieces and knickknacks signify arbitrary measures of personal worth. By “disfiguring” the cherished objects, Wys produces a visual, mental disparity that deconstructs their value; the clownish colors show the tenuousness of their “high status.” While subversive in intent, the finished Readymades are curious and beautiful art pieces in and of themselves, at once celebrating and critiquing contemporary art practices and embracing imperfection. The ultimate significance of the works, however, is the viewer’s cognitive responsibility; as Wys states, they are “meant to mean different things to different people who are at different stages of understanding” (Source).