Sculptures Not Made By Human Hands

How do we define art? What is qualified as art? For retired fisherman turned writer and photographer Whit Deschner, anything can be a piece of art, especially if it’s a salt block.

For the past 13 years Deschner has been organizing The Great Salt Lick Contest, an event where a person can submit carved salt licks, whether he is a farmer, rancher, or just a guy who has access to grazing mammals. There is a catch, however; an animal must be the one responsible for the sculpture and that animal can only use its tongue to shape divots, swirls and whorls into the 50-pound square block.

What started out as a joke amongst friends has morphed into a friendly competition that also happens to be for a good cause. Over the years, Deschner has auctioned off hundreds of salt licks and raised more than $150,000 for Parkinson’s disease research at the Oregon Health and Sciences University. (Deschner was diagnosed with the disease in 2000.)
So why did Deschner choose a salt lick, of all things, as an artistic medium in the first place?
“I was at my friend’s cabin and he had a salt lick out back for the deer,” Deschner says. “The deer had sculpted the block with their tongues and I made a comment about how it looked a lot like the modern art you see in major cities. I wanted to figure out how I could make a contest out of the idea, just for a laugh.”

What are your thoughts on this one?

(Image Credit: Whit Deschner)


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