Dust art is a form of art that simply uses common dust as the medium of expression. Household dust, outdoor dust or any form of malleable detritus is potential material for dust art. The works can be two- or three-dimensional, forming representational and abstract images.
Two-dimensional dust art is made using a variety of tools, including fingers, brushes and any pointed instrument that can create shapes and lines. Shading can be done by scraping dust away to reveal the surface beneath. Applying different pressure to areas of dust also helps provide a range of dark and light tones.
Texas dust artist Scott Wade has said he usually requires one to four hours to create a finished work. Dirty windshields are one of his favorite surfaces. Wade’s skill has enabled him to create dusty, detailed versions of such famous works as Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
Once completed, the 2-D dust art often will begin to change based on the surrounding conditions, and it can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. Eventually, outdoor works of dust art will be swept away by wind and rain. This sort of art achieves longevity only when photographed.
Other artists mold masses of dust into fragile sculptures. British artist Paul Hazelton turned dust into tiny representations of objects such as human figures, skulls or insects. Hazelton said dust also serves a metaphorical purpose, providing intimations of death and decay. Some of these works are as small as a few centimeters in length and height; others are tall enough to reach a high ceiling.
Hazelton applies water to the dust to make it hold together, then carefully dries the piece once the sculpting work is finished. The artist also incorporates dust into multimedia works, lending a unique, nubby texture to two-dimensional images. He has used dust bunnies, arachnid corpses and refuse collected on furniture and window sills to build wispy but three-dimensional objects.
Dust art is different from more commonly seen sidewalk art, because dust art relies on found materials. Sidewalk artists commonly use colored chalk or pastels, both of which are traditional tools for drawing. Some art stores even sell a kind of chalk specifically intended for pavement. Cities such as New York frown on sidewalk art, often dismissing it as a form of graffiti. Like most dust art, sidewalk art is temporary and eventually is seen only in memory and photographs.