The Worn Spoon

Artist Donna Dufault looking at a wall of prints from the Worn Spoon project

Artist Donna Dufault looking at a wall of prints from the Worn Spoon project

Each spoon featured in this collection of photographs was found among piles at yard sales; scattered in obscure antique shops; even half-buried in the dirt at the side of the road. At some point each spoon was once shiny and new. Each had purpose. Each was presumably utilitarian. Some were undoubtedly cherished as sentimental artifacts, passed down from generation to generation to the point of becoming familial treasures. Yet all were eventually cast off or forsaken, their histories forgotten, fated to languish in drawers, attics or basements while aging and tarnishing from disuse.

Many of these spoons seem to have lived a hard life. They’ve either been overworked or neglected to the point where their original desirability was lost over time to discoloration, scratches, dents, and patina. Yet I see the potential for something more in these sometimes ruined and haggard spoons. I believe they retain an inherent beauty that can and does offer them a new life, specifically because of their wear and tarnish.

Years ago, I began strategically pairing these spoons with objects from my varied collections of found objects, and through this practice each spoon has undergone a provocative transformation. Through photography, these otherwise derelict spoons are meeting other lost or neglected objects for the purpose of creating new, intriguing images. In so doing, I saw this project evolve into something much greater than what some might consider merely the documentation of old and beat up spoons. There is a distinct stylistic signature to these compositions, yet each association of found objects and spoons carries forth its own unique character. As these spoons have endured completely different experiences that have left their own, radically distinctive scars, it is precisely this damage or neglect that imbues each spoon with its own radiant, even transcendent personality.

With this body of work I am honoring and celebrating the scars that these spoons reveal. The dents. The strong and brilliant colors of tarnish. The imperfections. These photographs were made to ask us to see beauty in what otherwise might be considered the decayed and useless, and to consider the unknowable histories – and therefore the inherent mysteries – that each spoon so effortlessly holds.