USELESS: Provocation #9

As an artist, the word “USELESS” doesn’t appear in my vocabulary often. When I was a teenage graffiti writer active at night with my crew, seemingly useless objects like old milk crates or broken shipping pallets made great ladders for extra painting height or were used as background stencils for intricate details. In these days, we would boast about transforming the useless into the useful – creating “skinny” tips from old spray paint caps and splashing the residual paint on the wall for a Jackson Pollock effect.


I believe the word “USELESS” says more about the person claiming such than the object in question. One person may find something useless that another  uses to finish a masterpiece. Useless and Useful share the same relationship between trash and treasure in the old saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Uselessness is a matter of perception, a simple lack of imagination on behalf of the observer. Anyone who abuses the word “USELESS” would benefit well in watching an old episode of MacGyver.

Leon Reid IV