Yoonjin Lee makes abandoned gloves and lip balm look like they're crying out for help.

Ever lose something of value on the streets of New York? Take solace that it might be enjoying a rich second life, thanks to a woman who's labeling such abandoned objects with paeans to their core worth (and by extension, to what a dolt you were to drop them).

Take this pair of MTA cards on the floor of the Union Square subway station: The label on the right is particularly pointed about the owner's wastefulness:

 


This wee sign asks, "Candy wrapper on the street is trash / But what do you call a full pack of candy on the street"?

 


And best yet, here's a teary-eyed music tribute to lost lip balm:

 


Is a pack of chastising leprechauns running amok in New York? Possibly somewhere – you never know with this city – but these specific objects are the handiwork of Yoonjin Lee, a 22-year-old attendee at Manhattan's School of Visual Arts. Since last autumn, Lee has scanned the sidewalks for castoffs like hair ties, single gloves, and cigarette lighters, then outfitted them with little paper arms holding notices like "Help! I'm lost."

"People just look at me funny but sometimes I stay around the corner for a little bit and see a few people stop and go closer to look at it," she emails. Here's how she explains her "Little Lost Project":

I wanted to humanize everyday objects that we do not think much of and leave them on the streets. When people lose their favorite lip balm, it really annoys them but it does not ruin their life. If you change the perspective, falling out of someone's pocket and being left useless on the street is life-changing. I wanted to show this through the messages on the cardboard signs and New Yorkers or online viewers can take a moment to relate with the objects or imagine the story behind it. I just wanted to bring some delight to people through this project.

You can find the complete "Little Lost Project" on Facebook and Tumblr. Credit the artist with an imaginative reuse of street litter – but even more for the courage to not always use gloves when picking things off New York's questionable sidewalks. Here are a couple more winners from the project:

 
 

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.

  2. Design

    Experimental City: The Sci-Fi Utopia That Never Was

    With solar energy, recycling, computers, and personal mass transit, the 1960s-era Minnesota Experimental City was a prescient and hopeful vision of the urban future. A new documentary tells its story.

  3. Equity

    The Side Pittsburgh Doesn't Want You to See

    Pittsburgh filmmaker Chris Ivey has spent over twelve years documenting the lives of the people displaced so that the city can achieve its “cool” status.  

  4. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  5. Life

    Meet the High-Tech Buses of Tomorrow

    They’re zero-emissions. They drive themselves. And they’re longer than a blue whale. Can the humble city bus get a modern makeover?