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Everyday Items As Art

They may not seem all that artistic, those ubiquitous yellow Post-it notes, or the chopsticks that came with last night's take-out, or the zipper keeping your pants up.

But a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art's Queens space says those items and over 100 more everyday objects are worthy of admiration and are brilliant examples of the art of design. "Humble Masterpieces" opened Thursday at MoMA QNS, and runs through Sept. 27.

"People tend to think of design as decoration, as expensive items, as something that adds luxury to your life," Paola Antonelli, curator of the exhibit, said.

"It doesn't need to be expensive, and you already use great design everyday for sure, you just have to look around you."

Half of the items in the exhibit come from the museum's collection, while the others are under consideration for acquisition. The objects are displayed in a series of cases, and the stories behind some of them are told through text panels on the walls.

The items cover centuries of design, from chopsticks, which were first made several thousand years ago, to the Yaktrax Walker, a plastic and steel sling designed in 2002 that is attached to shoes to keep people from falling on ice.

There are personal items, such as soft contact lenses and a hair dryer, and household objects — a kitchen timer, a no-spill chopping board, salt and pepper shakers.

There are some that modern life would be unimaginable without — the bar code, the plastic coffee cup lid, the light bulb. And, of course, the ones that just make life more fun — M&M's, a Frisbee, Rubik's Cube.

Antonelli said she hoped that by putting these objects amid all the art masterpieces on display at MoMA QNS, she could continue a mission that was started when MoMA was founded 75 years ago — "showing people how amazing and beautiful everyday objects are."

The exhibit also invites the public's input. Although, the museum has no plans to add more items to this exhibit, it has included a book in which visitors can add their suggestions for everyday items they think could have been included.

By Deepti Hajela

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