Why are random acts of art so powerful?
Transcript for the Take an Art Break Podcast Episode
Okay, everybody, we’re here for another podcast. How’s everybody doing? Hi, Lisa.
<Laugh>. Okay. So after our last conversation and the little bit, we talked about that amazing wall of, of sort of protest art, that sort of climbing up that fence that was set up in front of the White House over the summer. We kind of, we kind of talked a little bit about this idea of a random act of art. And so I wanted to chat today about the question, why are random acts of art so powerful? And I think in order to do that, the first thing we have to do is define what a random act of art is. So you wanna start there, Lisa?
Well, I think there’s two components to it, right? You have the person that’s giving the random act of art, and then you have the receiver, you have the, that person, or several people that just stumble upon the random active art. So to, for me, it begins with the creator who’s like, but you know what? There’s no there’s no what’s the word? There’s no, like, you don’t get anything from it. You can’t, there’s no expectations. You can’t be like, I’m gonna make a random act art and I wanna have this happen. Right? So you gotta create the art, and it’s really about random acts of kindness too. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, it comes from a place of pure, like intentionality. Like, you just wanna give, you wanna, like, I read something that was so cool today, where’s the little thing? It said something like make kindness the norm. And then like, art will just appear on the scene and then it gives somebody assistance, you know, and then it, it, you know, it’s mysterious. No one knows where it came from, and it really creates a positive impact on that person’s day or people’s day. Does that make sense?
<Laugh> totally makes sense. Yeah. I would, I would define a random act of art. Two ways, maybe more than that. So as an artist, like you were talking about, you have this notion of sort of letting go of your art and then letting it be in the world in a way that maybe it’s not quote unquote, normally placed in the world. And so it’s out in the public place without a plan. It’s not planned public art, it’s not planned live gallery or live music performance. It’s a random music performance. It’s a random work of street art or something of that nature. And it’s not to say that the artist doesn’t plan, I, there’s definitely plans going to the random act of art because, you know if you’re a street performer, you wanna find the place that has the best audience potential for you, I’m sure, or interaction or acoustics.
If you’re a street artist that wants to create some sort of artwork on a wall somewhere, that takes some planning as well. Some secret planning too. So yeah, that to, to me, the random part of it is that it’s not commissioned, let’s say by someone to do it. It’s that it’s placed in a random spot that you, you’re kind of not necessarily being asked to do it. And then the second component is, is that and this can involve to me, a planned work of art that the viewer randomly comes upon the art, they turn a corner and they’re not expecting art to be there, and it’s there. And so it feels different than if you make the choice to go to walk into an art gallery or walk into your local coffee shop and knowing that there’s going to be art on the wall. Because there are planned temporary works of art Absolutely. Me, are so random acts of art.
It’s like Andy Gold worthy, the environmental artists, right? And I was doing those for a while. Two, two, the tree shrines where I would create works of art around trees. And it wasn’t, I didn’t have a, I mean, I had a plan. I, I know that I wanted to <laugh> on our nature, but I, it didn’t matter who was gonna show up, and it was so cool. But that’s what Andy Goldsworthy does as well. You know, he creates the nature and some random strangers hiking in the woods. And oh my God, what is this? You know, <laugh>.
Yeah. So why, why is that powerful? Why is something that is that the viewers not planning to see, or that was, it’s, there’s not necessarily a plan in place for it to, to the artwork to be there. Why is it, why is it powerful? Like, let’s talk about why is it powerful for the artist? Why would an artist choose to do that? Why would an artist choose to create a random work of art? And then why is the experience for the viewer powerful?
Well, I think it is about kindness for the artist creating, and it’s also about making a difference, making the world a little better. And I was thinking of the why. It’s like, we are so inundated with bad news, <laugh>, you know what I mean? Bad, you know, doom, what do you call it? Doom scrolling. You know, it’s like <laugh>. And then to just have a random, it’s kind of, it’s a sweet kind gesture. Just, you know, I’m walking, you know, I walk this path every day, you know, say I get my coffee or whatever, and then almost on one day there’s a little sculpture hanging from the tree. And I’m like, oh my God, that’s amazing. It shifts your perspective as the, the viewer or the receiver of the artwork. So in a way it’s, I mean, in, in its way. I mean, there’s two components, you know, in a way it’s more like random acts of kindness.
It’s also about like street art. It’s more about political, you know? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> we were the Black Lives Matter. We had a conversation about that, that, you know, murals popping up that’s like, that’s a statement. You, you know, or a Banksy <laugh>, a Banksy where you, but it’s still random. And it, it’s the artist has to be a little, how do I say this in a good word? Like a trickster, you know what I mean? You gotta have a little, like a little playfulness in you that you wanna surprise somebody to receive this artwork with nothing. Nothing. You don’t, you don’t need anything back.
Right? Yeah. Yeah. I, I I think that’s interesting that you, that you say that, that the artist is giving something with no expectation of something in return. It’s a very different model for our right. Because mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, generally speaking, you hang your work up in a gallery and not that there’s, there’s not pleasure from that or anything like that, but you, you hang it, someone buys it, and you have the potential to have a conversation with that person. Right? Right. When you’re creating a random work of art, like street art or I, I’m thinking of like the knitting that happens, you know, midnight knitters knitting around a stop sign or something like that
Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. Yeah.
You have no, you don’t have an idea of how many people will interact with that work of art and what they will sort of glean from it. Right. I, I do think that your hope is either that it will get someone to stop and think about something that you believe is important, right. Or it will spread this notion of just like a nice thing <laugh>, just Yeah. An extra smile to someone’s day. Yeah. you know, so that, that brings me to just a couple of, of types of random art that I really enjoy. Flash mobs I think are insanely awesome. And just because it’s like <laugh>, it’s kind of awkward to be in, like, to witness one. It’s, you know, I just imagine it’d be really fun to be in one. Right? and just, it just, it does, it, it’s, I mean, it’s what you and I always wanna do.
We just wanna snap someone out of their normal routine. That’s why we create the projects we create. We’re just trying to, we’re just trying to shift and, and just get you to see the world in a different way or just like, maybe snap you out of something that you might just be churning in for a little while. You know? And I think street performers do that. Like, one of my favorite things to do is here an instrument from far away, and then you feel it getting closer and closer and closer and closer. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, and, and street arts like that too, that, that notion of just walking and turning a corner and then just having something sort of light lighted up a little bit. You know, or bringing your attention to something that you’re like, you know, that maybe you need to pay attention to that you’ve just, life has sort of made you not,
You know. Yeah. And I think we always talk about this, it’s a continuous theme that art is really a bridge. So these random acts of art are a bridge into what may seem like the unknown, cuz Right. You do a random act of art. You don’t know how many people your effect, you don’t really know how, you know, make them feel. But so it’s kind of, but it becomes a bridge. And you’re right. It, it might spark something within you that’s like, oh, I never thought of that. Or Oh, I need to stop and smell the roses. Which is a big one, you know? Yeah.
I think a lot of street art is like that. So, like, one of my, one of ’em that I really like her name is Rachel Sussman. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And she created, I’m not gonna say this correctly, it’s called Sidewalk Kin Sue Cora, which is the Japanese translation cuz Japanese fixed ceramics using gold. Yes,
In the seals. And that’s the process of doing that. She did it with cracks, cracks in the street. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, she filled the cracks in the street with gold. And it’s just like, that’s so ran like, to me that’s so random, but it’s so beautiful at the same time. And it’s so complex. It’s such a simple thing. But like, just imagine yourself walking and, and to me it’s that where you’re like, what is that? And then you have to take the time to try to figure out what it is. Right. And you have to stop and breathe and open your mind, right? Like you were saying to this something else, you know? And then you see the world in a different way. And I know there’s a lot of artists that use miniatures,
Uhhuh, <affirmative>. Oh yeah. <Laugh>
Artists that create worlds in the cracks of walls or just tiny little figures on the sidewalk that you could step on. Right. But you, but you might see the world in a, in a different way, you know by doing that. Yeah. yeah. And,
You know, and also I think it’s really intrinsic to us as humans that we are at our base, very altruistic. Meaning we want to give <laugh>, we wanna give back. And I think a lot of artists that do the random acts of art are also wanting kind of like pay it forward. Like, you know, I, I did this, I put the tree shriner on the tree, and maybe you’re gonna do something like that. Just pay it for me. Maybe it inspires you, which we always want people to do to take a random act of art heartbreak, right?
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. So what, do you have any random acts of art that, well,
I actually discovered a really cool book on Amazon. It’s called The Art of Abandonment Project. Create Ensure Random Acts of Art. And it’s a paperback, but it’s by Michael d Dung and Andrea Mattis. But it’s really, it’s kind of like a how-to, if you are interested in this, it’s like learn the ins and outs of being an they call it an abandoner. So you abandon your art, which is basically what a random act is. Cause you don’t go in, you don’t go and take it back. <Laugh>, right. <Laugh>.
Right. And you leave it, you, you let go of control Right. As well. Which I think is an interesting notion that we might, and
Then it’s it says in this book, get ideas and inspiration for monthly abandoning challenges. So you could work with friends, family, nice neighbors, which is so cool. And then see examples of abandonment art. And then like you just said, receive helpful encouragement to let go of your creations. Sometimes it’s at hand and then connect with the movement. There’s a big movement. So I thought that was a, a cool thing to bring to the conversation, that there’s actually manuals out there that you can <laugh> that can help you if you need inspiration. Right. So yeah.
There. Yeah. Another one that I like is gorilla gardening. And so it’s Oh yeah. It’s started by someone in London. Yeah. Richard Reynold too who basically would plant flowers in the middle of the night in, you know, those midways between roads, I guess that maybe the city was just abandoning. Right.
Robin Blight. Right. <laugh>, yeah.
He decided to start taking care of, and now he has a book, basically called Gorilla Gardening. So if you’re interested in you know, fixing a part of the city that you think the city is ignoring or just, I mean, what an awesome surprise that would be for someone who sort of walks by the same place or drives by the same place every day to, to wake up one day and see it just full of flowers. Like, you know, it’s like dirt one day. Right. And then next day it’s flowers. You know, that that’s, that’s an amma that would put a smile on someone’s face, you know? Yeah. And you know me, I have to mention candy Chang, I, she’s absolute all time favorite artist. Because she’s just, she kind of encompasses all the things I I love to do in my own personal art, you know, which is basically the viewer finishes the artwork, the artwork experience itself.
I maybe the most, the one that people might know off the, you know, right off the bat is the Before I die Yeah. On basically construction. Construction was being done and she just painted over it and put up a chalkboard that said, before I die. And people fill in the blanks and it’s just a beautiful, yeah. Just a beautiful way of connecting people in a community and then the artist and the viewer and and just like like you were saying, just the letting go process as an artist because she has no control over what’s gonna happen to the artwork once she kind of presses the go button. So, yeah.
But I think the beautiful I saw her at the Edinburg Center here in Los Angeles and just amazing just her, like her vision and her mission about it. But it’s really also about, for me, it’s like, you know what, we’re all the same on so many levels and we forget about it and we forget about that. Even that question before I die, you know, like we all, we all have that conversation. We all have that, that you know, we’re
All connected with that. I mean, there’s no, you know, know,
It’s a, it’s a commonality. And I think for some reason we always forget about the commonality between us. You know, that way we’re all pretty much made of blood and <laugh>, we all feared death <laugh>. Right. You know, and so, I mean, for her random act was it’s beautiful cuz it’s, it becomes then the tapestry of human existence. Like how we, what we are interconnected and we all have the same conversations. We all, you know, have these same,
And, and maybe that’s the real art, right? That we’re all connected.
There you go. Yeah. So I heard from someone that you’re gonna do an heartbreak today, <laugh>.
Yeah. Let’s do an heartbreak. So this, I actually got this from our art and art and love calendar that is up for February. And so it’s just super easy. All you need is a piece of paper and the markers, you’ll eventually need scissors, but don’t worry about it. Now obviously if you’re not in a position where you can take an art break right now, come back later and, and take an arm break, obvi, you know, of course we always want take an arm break. So what you’re going to do is you’re gonna take your piece of paper and draw, just, just draw hearts on it. So, you know, just don’t have them intersect. Make them separate from each other. So I’m gonna draw like four hearts. All
Cause I can fit four hearts on my piece of paper.
Okay. So here’s my four hearts just really starting really simple.
And then inside the hearts write, if you have like a favorite quote about love that you, that you kind of think of, you can put that inside the heart. Okay. Like short, really positive messages, like keep going or you’ve got this, you’re amazing. Just a smiley face even. Just to kind of pick, pick whichever you feel like and put it inside the heart.
I’m digging the smiley face right now, so I’m gonna put a smiley face in one of my hearts.
I did be love, be
Love, be love. I love that.
It’s kinda like, it’s kinda like those little Valentine’s day candies that you get, right, <laugh>
Yeah. It’s kinda modeled after that. Exactly.
So you fill that in with your nice quote or motivation, and then obviously you can spend as much time you fill in around the heart inside the heart and anything you wanna do. And then, so this, you know, that’s, that’s just really, that’s really simple. And if you wanna stop there, that’s cool, but if you wanna go around with decorating the inside the heart, the outside of the heart, whatever you’re feeling to do, you can do that. You know, I would say Lisa, and I would say probably you need to spend at least what, five minutes? Yeah. On an heartbreak to kind of really feel it
With the benefits.
Yeah. And then,
Oh, cool. Yeah. Yeah.
Okay. So, you know, take your time to do that. And then after that, you can either cut it out like a shape of a heart or cut it out. Like if you’ve decorated the outside of the heart, cut it out like a square. And then what I want you to do is I want you to randomly give it to someone. So that’s the random act of art comes in. So tape it on your neighbor’s door. Or if you go somewhere where you know, you like a parking lot, put it on someone’s windshield. Or Lisa and I have been delivering things to little libraries. We’ve been delivering free packets. You know, put it, put it in a little envelope and drop it off at a little library and surprise someone when they’re going to get a book the next time. So that’s just a really simple way to both take an heartbreak and create a random act of art because it’s obviously a powerful experience to do it as an artist and then to receive it as a viewer. Yeah. Yeah.
Sweet. Mine’s mine’s kind of <laugh>. There
You go. Yeah. Oh, bliss. Yes.
I like the, I like a winged heart, you know, cause I’m kind of into soup, but
Yeah. Yeah. Love. Yes,
That’s a beautiful intention for February as you’re right. Yes. A love one spread.
Spread some love, spread some kindness. Spread some art. I like it.
All right. Miranda back Art. Okay. Yes. I hope you enjoyed this. And oh, next time we’re gonna have a special guest. I just wanted to tell everybody about this. Her name is Ray Luskin. She’s a art activist, I would say, or an artivist. She has an amazing story. So she’s gonna be on podcast on the 15th yeah. February 15th.
Yep. Two weeks. All all. Thanks everyone.