Answering the Call to Create Street Art

Today I found my way to this video of a flash mob from a public library in Valladolid, Spain (via On Being Tumblr). Near the end I found tears in my eyes. If I’m being honest, a lot of flash mob videos make me cry. There is something so beautiful about a group of people making something that only exists for a moment, with the main intent of bringing more joy to the world. I watched the video twice, and both times I was fascinated by the reactions of the people in the library. On their faces you can see delight, amusement, excitement, curiosity, skepticism, annoyance and boredom. I love the way that one event can create such a wide range of personal experiences.

I have similar feelings about street art and graffiti, and other art forms like mail art and temporary works like those made by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. I love the idea of making something and releasing it to the world, with no intention of permanence. This is the work that feels alive in the world to me. Of course in this digital age, even the temporary can be preserved, but there is no guarantee of how long these formats will last, and if they will survive to have anyone asking questions in hundreds of years.

As a consequence of returning to school for a design and psychology degree, I’ve been thinking and asking myself a lot of questions about my intentions after I graduate. Luckily, I’m at the beginning of this journey and have a lot of time to think it over. Right now I don’t even know if I want to pursue art as a career. I’m happy to be working on answering the questions that swirl around in my head. What is the work that makes me feel joy? I keep going back to the idea of street art and other public art works. In my dream life I’d be brave enough to run around and spray paint walls in the middle of the night, but in actuality I am a staunch rule follower and would have a very difficult time knowingly doing something permanent and/or illegal.

So, I’ve been tossing around ideas of what I can do to put art out into the world that isn’t permanent. Works like urban cross stitch, chalk art or work made out of the landscape have caught my eye. I have a couple of ideas, and I’m going to start testing. I’ll share once I’ve put something out there. It will probably be small to start, but the calling is becoming too strong to ignore.

Dear readers, what is the work that makes you feel joy?

Comments 2

  1. Katie September 28, 2014

    I am the same way. I’ve been obsessed with graffiti since I was young (i wrote a paper for a high school sociology class about the merits of graffiti, my teacher wasn’t convinced by my arguments though…. :) ) And, like you, I would LOVE to be a street artist but I’m just too dang worried about getting in trouble. This summer I had a plan to wake up early and cover the downtown sidewalks with hearts and positive messages, but never got around to it. I still would like to though! Maybe this is the encouragment that I need.

    • Tricia September 28, 2014

      Ha! That’s awesome! I had to take a research paper writing class in January for a degree requirement, and I actually wrote my paper about graffiti and street art too. It was the most fun I’ve EVER had doing research. Maybe we should invent a new term for sissy, law abiding street art. :) Your drawings and hand writing would be AMAZING as chalk drawings on sidewalks. I would be thrilled if I happened upon them. Let’s do this!! I can’t wait to see what you make.

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