Art That People Step On

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While walking, have you ever walked around or over a spot that looks dirty because of leaks, spills, smudges, or splatter? How about bird poop?

The next time you come across what looks like a dirty area, don’t just keep walking. Stop and look, and have your smartphone camera ready. You will be surprised to find patterns that look like art in the area that looks like it should be avoided.

I initially started looking for patterns in nature and on paved surfaces, walls, and in other manmade objects that looked like the symbol “or “OM”, which is a symbol that has religious and spiritual significance for Hindus. I only found two patterns that looked somewhat like .” 

At the end of the year 2016, I started noticing other patterns in spills, leaks, stains, smudges, splatter, spit, and weathered, eroded, and repaired portions of sidewalks and other paved and semi-paved areas that people generally step on without paying much attention. To my curious mind and eyes, some of the patterns looked like works of art. Soon I started noticing more and more ‘works of art’ as I walked on paved, semi-paved, and unpaved surfaces. Using the camera on my smartphone, I started taking pictures of the artistic patterns observed.

I, now, have a growing collection of photos called “Art That People Step On” and am able to quickly spot art-like patterns in dirty-looking areas on surfaces.

Some of the skills used to identify patterns of art in what appears to be dirty-looking areas include focused observation, identifying patterns, making connections, rotational visualization, asking questions, curiosity, and imagination. 

Viewers’ interpretations of what the pictures are and the artist’s interpretations may be quite different, and this is perfectly okay. Everyone perceives things differently, based on their prior knowledge, experiences, and cultural perspectives. 

If the pictures provoke some conversations among strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family members who view them, I will be happy. 

Photos from the “Art That People Step On” collection have been exhibited at the Beverly Hills art show in May 2019, October 2019, and October 2020. During the show in October 2020, one photo was awarded the Third Place ribbon by the judges and also won the People’s Choice Award in the Photography category

Why don’t you try your hand at it? What would you title this picture?


Dr. Mandayam Osuri Thirunarayanan was born in Madras, India. He became a citizen of the United States and currently lives in Miami, Florida.

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