But it seems that only the more eccentric or popular artists are viewed as true artists when working with items normally discarded in the trash pile. Why can’t average people be considered artists when they pull the same items out and mold them into some form of personal art of their own creating? Maybe it’s because we all have our own pre-set ideas of what art is and isn’t, or who artists are or should be.

(Source: Jack C. Richards, Samuela Eckstut-Didier, Strategic Reading Level 3 Student's Book)

I've already raised another question from the same text.

I am wondering if pull out in this context means:

After some process done on trash or just taking them out?

  • 1
    Just taking the things out of the trash. No special meaning.
    – Stephie
    May 25, 2015 at 6:26
  • 1
    Again: Please mark the original text with a '>' to show what is your text and what not. Giving a source is a good idea, too.
    – Stephie
    May 25, 2015 at 10:57
  • Thanks all for reply. Ok. I am so sorry for forgetting to include the source
    – nima
    May 25, 2015 at 11:43
  • Nima, my edit was intended as an example, I won't edit all of your posts - but you should.
    – Stephie
    May 25, 2015 at 13:07
  • @Stephie this looks like the oldest unanswered question on ell? Page 67 of unanswered questions. So it seems as good a place as any to ask a question which I have been wondering about. :-) Why not add your earlier comment as an "answer"?
    – Sam
    May 4, 2018 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


In the context of the piece, 'pull the same items out' means to take them from the trash, like the artists have done.

The phrase

mold them into some form of personal art

is the process being done with the trash.


This is good writing by the author.

To pull out, take out, or bring out items can mean repurposing from anywhere. A related idiom is take/pull something off the shelf, but the item’s former location need not be a literal shelf. Picking up something lying around has a similar sense.

In context however, close proximity of “trash pile” and “pulling the same items out” paints the pathetic picture of a wannabe sifting through a true artist’s garbage hoping to find anything that might be deemed art — even lowly “personal art” — in a sad attempt to mimic the true artist who can throw together what seems like junk to the praise of critics everywhere.

Broadly, someone who seems to succeed at everything even when using unorthodox or otherwise surprising methods is said to have the Midas touch after the story of King Midas from ancient Greek mythology who asked Dionysus for the power to turn everything he touched into gold. True artists from the quotation in your question might be said to have the Midas touch, so the expression is used in a strongly positive sense for rare talents or gifts — even though the story of King Midas is tragic.

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