Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Art Abandonment: Leaving Gifts of Art in Public Places

If you're out and about in your community and stumble upon a piece of art that appears to be "abandoned," there's a good chance you've encountered the work of an artist who's a member of the the Art Abandonment Project.

A miniature painting I plan to "abandon" Friday in Marietta.
The Art Abandonment Project was started by well known artists Michael deMeng and his wife, Andrea Matus deMeng. The Facebook group now boasts an international membership in the thousands. Its sole purpose: create pieces of art -- which can encompass anything from original paintings to jewelry to art postcards to craft items and beyond -- to be left anonymously in public places for strangers to claim and enjoy.

When someone finds one of these treasures, a card accompanying the piece informs them that it's intended for them with no strings attached. Or, if they'd prefer, to pass along to someone else. It also informs the recipient that if they so choose, they can email the group to share the date and circumstances under which the item was found.

I loved the concept as soon as I heard about the Art Abandonment group. As I listen to reports of the tragic shooting in San Bernardino this evening, coming on the heels of the horrific attacks in Paris, I'm thinking that leaving small gifts of art for strangers to discover, and committing all sorts of "random acts of kindness," is more important now than ever. These are small gestures, and against the broader picture no doubt they seems irrelevant and totally insignificant, but in times like these, every "insignificant" gesture of love, good will and concern for others is of monumental importance. Whether it's leaving a gift of art on a park bench for a passer-by to find, holding a door open for a stranger, or offering a kind word to a harried store clerk, every tiny act of kindness helps counteract the climate of violence and intolerance that threatens us all.

We don't have to engage in grand, sweeping efforts to become instruments of peace. It's small, simple gestures that, cumulatively, can have enormous impact. Saint Francis summed it up when he wrote, "Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is darkness, light..."

Together, our smallest efforts can change the world.

Image and text ©2015 Lynn Edwards


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