Art Exchange Box

How often does the average person get the opportunity to own original artwork? How often does the average person get the opportunity to make art? I was prompted to make this work because I believe the answer to both of these questions is not very often. Art exchange is typically limited to wealthy collectors and galleries, or within art communities. Those who don’t fall into either of those categories, don’t often get the opportunity to engage with art.

In response to this, I created an art exchange box in my own neighborhood, Shadyside. Shadyside is a neighborhood populated primarily by students and elderly people. The art exchange box is particularly effective with these groups as students tend to have the energy and enthusiasm to engage with art and elderly people tend to have the time. While the DIY aesthetic of the project is not particularly sophisticated, it is designed to be approachable. I started the box off with a collection of my own drawings, but ultimately the box is intended to be what it’s participants make of it. I see my role as one of an art exchange facilitator. My aim is to create a new community of artists within the shadyside community. My hope is that the box might even serve as a connector between the disparate communities of elders and students within the shadyside community, groups that I think have the potential to learn a lot from each other. I think the box has the potential to offer these groups art as a means of communication and connection.

Unfortunately, rainy weather conditions have limited the time the box has been able to be out. Because of this, the box hasn’t yet garnered any participation. For this reason, it is difficult for me to make judgements about what parts of the project are and are not effective. I hope to continue monitoring the box over the coming weeks and make adjustments based off the quantity and quality of participation. Ultimately, I see my project as a tool. It is my job to maintain the tool, and ensure that it’s functioning as well as it possibly can. It is the job of my participants to use the tool as they see fit.  

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