Chicago-based artist Jeffrey Michael Austin spends a lot of time photographing the puddles that collect on his city’s sidewalks and streets, observing the mirror-like quality that occurs when the sun hits the water at just the right angle. Eager to remake these special moments of reflection, Austin began creating his own sculptural puddles that appear to reflect the sky above. The works incorporate small bits of debris to strengthen the work’s illusion, while also adding to the quotidian nature of each false pool.
“The Puddles came from my desire to make work that at first glance feels mundane and unassuming, a candid situation you wouldn’t immediately regard as or associate with an art experience,” said Austin. “I’d hoped that in this way they would gently present themselves as yet another detail of your natural environment, before then unfurling with a kind of subtle and surprising magic — an extraordinary quality that you have to grapple with for a moment before facing it with any criticality.”
Austin likes to present his puddles in their “natural habitat” so they are not initially read as art. He hopes his small reflections of the sky (and more recently galaxies) spark a moment of curiosity in the audience they reach, making one rethink their expectations of the surrounding world.
You can view more of Austin’s in situ puddle sculptures, as well as browse a selection of the artist’s candid puddle photography on his Instagram.