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minimalism, minimalist style, sculpture made by hand, public participation/interaction with artwork, manufacturing art, playfulness in art, precision in art, aluminum, rubber, adding uncertainty to art, machine age, ethics of ownership, authority over nature, power over nature, changing manufactured objects in art, cube, bumpers, metallic machine parts, aesthetics of the machine age, art as object of substance,geometic,

John Noestheden’s sculptures generally follow the  minimalistMinimalism is a twentieth century art movement and style stressing the idea of reducing a work of art to the minimum number of colors, values, shapes, lines and textures. No attempt is made to represent or symbolize any other object or experience. It is sometimes called ABC art, minimal art, reductivism, and rejective art. (  tradition, what he describes as being, “on the edge between something and nothing.”  And in a review of Noestheden’s 1999 exhibition Bumperedobjects at the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, art writer Jack Anderson observed that Noestheden’s studio appears to be dedicated exclusively to “the manufacture of things measurable and weighable, of things substantial and precise…All of the numerous small geometric sculptures that Noestheden makes here have the appearance of precisely milled, highly reflective metallic machine parts. They seem to exude the sleek and slick  aestheticsThe branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and value of art objects and experiences. It is concerned with identifying the clues within works that can be used to understand, judge, and defend judgments about those works. Originally, any activity connected with art, beauty and taste, becoming more broadly the study of art's function, nature, purpose, and so on. (  of the machine age as well as its ethics of ownership, authority and power over nature.” (Anderson, 1999).

start quoteI think art-making is an act of love. We certainly make art as gifts to our communities because often we are not paid for the work that we produce and often it's not purchased. So it is...making art is a kind of gift to the planet.end quote -- John Noestheden

However, Anderson cautions, it is important to realize that Noestheden’s studio is not a factory, and that his sculptures are made by hand.  The forms he uses – in the case of Bumperedcube, seen above, a cube with circular bumpers attached – suggests variations from the usual  patternRepeating lines, colours or shapes within a design.  of manufactured products.  Noestheden has taken a manufactured object and personalized it by repeatedly using a hand file to shave the edges.

Use the zoom tool on the image above, and take a closer look.  The cube, balancing on a hand-filed edge, looks as though it could tip over onto one of its protective bumpers at any time.  In fact, Noestheden left it up to visitors to the exhibition to arrange Bumperedcube and the 37 other works in the show on the gallery floor.  In this way, the look of the show changed according to the whims of people visiting, just as Noestheden took predictable and familiar shapes of the machine age and transformed them by adding uncertainty and playfulness.

additional resources Art Making is a Gift to the Planet
Duration: 1:43 min
Size: 8033kb
Bumpered Objects
Duration: 1:49 min
Size: 8224kb
Fuzzy Logic
Duration: 2:14 min
Size: 9706kb
His Background and Training
Duration: 1:46 min
Size: 8509kb
Duration: 2:42 min
Size: 12052kb
Things to Think About
  • What is Noestheden trying to say by allowing the “audience” to manipulate his art?  What might this say about the nature of his, or of any other, artworks?
  • What expectations does Noestheden have of his “audience”?  Is their participation required in order for his artwork to come to life?
  • How large do you think the work Bumperedcube is?  Does it look small, like the size of a Rubik’s Cube, or do you think it’s large?  How large might it be?  Click here to see how large it really is.
Advanced Activity

Make a list of gadgets you use at home. For example, a toaster, a hair dryer, your computer, the TV, a telephone, a stapler, a nail file , an ice cream scoop, a door handle, a spoon or fork, a hinge, etc.

Online Activity
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Create a  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (  online.


Studio Activity

Nosthedan is inspired by the precision of highly engineered/crafted machines and precision- made instruments. His  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (  imitates the qualities he admires in such objects. Some qualities he draws on are precision, predictability, and a highly reflective smooth and even surface. But rather than just make a “machine” or “tool” that carries out a predictable task, Nosthedan creates something imaginative and playful, adding un-useful elements which he offers to viewers to play with in the gallery! Although these pieces present a somewhat "space-age" look, Noestheden makes them by hand, just like craftsmen in past ages who made their own tools (in which they took great pride).


Create a new object


Anderson, Jack.  ‘Structures Look Like Machine Parts.’  Regina Leader Post, August 28, 1999.

Noestheden, John.  Artist Statement, Department of Visual Arts Faculty Show, University of Regina, 1993.

Conversation between John Noestheden and Kate McCabe, Assistant  CuratorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  at London Art Gallery, taped June 22, 1997. Transcribed conversation included in notes for White Paintings exhibition at the London Art Gallery, 1997.

‘Still Life.’  ESPACE 33, Fall 1995, p 31-34.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning