This week’s final installation of the 10 x 10 Series is a chance to really go wild with your creative impulses, share some artistic joy with others, and even cultivate a little mystery in a public space.
The Mystery Project doesn’t put any restrictions on what kind of art you make, as long as you document it in a 4 x 6 photo. Even better? You get a free “mystery color” Prismacolor Brush l Fine Art Marker to work with, as well as a word prompt to guide your work. It’s been our hope that the 10 x 10 Series has stimulated all its participants’ minds to think about art and the creative process in new ways each week. Now’s your chance to figure out which project, medium, prompt, or process got YOU thinking the most.
The choice of what to create is yours!
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The idea of putting art in public spaces is not a new one, however. Often called “street art” or “guerilla art,” this kind of work inverts the concept of “found art” (typically, art created with found materials) by leaving artwork behind for others to find. One of the coolest things about anonymously left public art is the ability it gives artists to inspire others by allowing them to encounter beauty or the unexpected in places they wouldn’t normally.
Here are some fun examples of works that guerilla artists leave behind to brighten strangers’ days, provoke thought, and make the world just a little more interesting.
1. Chalk Drawings
Springtime means the weather’s warmer, and folks are more likely to be out and about on the streets, walking instead of driving, and spending more time in public places. Chalk drawings are a great way for artists of any age to bring some color to these public walkways. Leave an inspirational message for someone to stumble upon. Trace your footsteps. Create a design. Leave a series of arrows for people to follow. The options are endless.
Below are some beautiful examples from artist Julian Beever, an English artist whose chalk drawings notably give the illusion of 3-dimensional objects or scenes.
A zine is a form of homemade publication, usually in pamphlet form. Many contain stories, poems, articles, drawings, doodles, manifestos, and cartoons. Usually they’re circulated by artists leaving them in public spaces, which might be a fun approach to The Mystery Project. Leave one on a restaurant table. Stick one in a library book. Drop a stack at your local coffee shop. Brighten someone’s day and leave them wondering … “who made this?!”
Here are some beautiful examples of handmade zines on ETSY.
3. Environmental Installations
Environmental installations are a really cool way to surprise and delight passersby, and typically involve creating ephemeral sculptures or patterns with natural and found materials. Another great thing about environmental installations? They may not cost you anything to create. Leave a thoughtful stone sculpture or pile for someone to wonder at. Create a pattern by braiding long grasses. Make a teepee out of twigs on top of a boulder or in the middle of a woodland path.
Here are some stunning examples of well-known environmental works:
[Clemson clay nest by Nils-Udo (2005) via designboom]
[by Helsinki artist Jonna Pohjalainen]
[“Tight Chalk Spiral” by Martin Waters]
There are so many other ways to break out of your normal artistic boundaries and go guerilla with this project.
Here are a few more ideas of kinds of works to leave out and about:
- a message in a bottle
- a hand written or pictographic recipe
- a treasure map or hunt for someone to follow
- a photograph
- a good luck charm
- a fortune …
We hope you’re inspired to place your art out in the world, and that you do join us for:
What happens when you make a stranger’s day?
This week’s final free project in the 10 x 10 Series is an exploration of the unexpected. Every participant will receive a mystery project kit, which includes a free Prismacolor Brush l Fine Art Marker in a surprise color and a secret word to guide your work. Create a token of inspiration using the tools in your kit — it could be a drawing, a zine, a sculpture, or a collage — then install it in a public place for a stranger to discover. Just remember to document your mystery project and send us a photograph! We’ll share your creative surprises with the entire community online.