Louis (Lou) Hirshman was born in western Russia (now Ukraine), in 1905. His family lived in difficult circumstances, poverty and poor treatment of Jews motivated them to immigrate to the United States. His father and older siblings came to Philadelphia and began work in a factory, saving up to bring the rest of the family along. Four years later Lou was able to make the journey along with his Mother and another sibling. Life in Philadelphia was still very challenging and he remembered drawing pictures of food to make himself feel less hungry.

In tenth grade, Hirshman dropped out of school to pursue art full time. He primarily painted (oil) but later moved to sketching caricatures and gained some success. He also did some early films. Around this time, he started experimenting with using objects that he found in everyday life to create caricatures. He would take items that said something about the person and use them to form the faces. These were usually commentary on public figures. Such as the silver rocks and dime eye on the rich business mogul John D. Rockefeller or the painters brush and dustpan shirt full of manure for Adolf Hitler. He called these new pieces Constructions. During WWII, Lou was a member of the Army and created graphic work, such as posters and training aids for the war effort.

After the war, he began teaching at school run through the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art and continued to create portraits of politicians. However as he got older, his work turned more to recreating the world around him in his Constructions style. He died in his home in Philadelphia in 1986 of age-related complications.

Today we will create our own “found art Constructions” like Lou Hirshman

1. Start by getting a clear picture of what you want to create. Do you want to tell a story or show an impression or design. You can make something recognizable or put items together to make an interesting design.

2. Now look at the supplies available and see how you can group them together on your piece of foam. Pick a handful of items and arrange them on the foam to see how they work together. Take plenty of time to rearrange and make sure everything works well together.

3. Once you are certain you have everything where you want it, glue the pieces into place. Add glue into the corners or underneath things if needed to make sure it feels secure.