International Art and Found Day
One of the most amazing experiences in my 10-year art career happened in 2021 all thanks to a lady from Toronto...who I've never met. I honestly get chills everytime I talk about out it.
Courtney Senior started International Art and Found Day as a way to spread joy around her neighborhood by leaving free pieces of art for people to find. She chose March 12th as the first International Art and Found day because that was her father's birthday. He had always been supportive of her art and after he passed away, she chose that date to honor him.
On the morning of March 12, 2021, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw that an artist friend was participating in this cool initiative. Kirsten Koza showed a few pieces of art packaged up neatly with a note inside - free art and whoever found them got to keep them. She encouraged other artists to participate. I immediately felt the tug on my heartstrings. It was something I had to do.
Operation: Hide the Art
I got eight pieces of art, put them in cellophane bags and included a note that read something like:
"Guess what? You just scored an original piece of art! Lucky you! I'm local artist Katie Phillips and I'm participating in International Art and Found Day. I'm spreading joy around town by giving people like you free art to enjoy. When you find this, please post it on your social media account and tag me (IG @Katiephillipsart or FB: KatiePhillipsFineArt). This will let me know that it's now safe in its new home. Also use #artandfoundday in your post so other lucky finders and participating artists can follow along on this unique journey."
I basically became an "art ninja," driving around my town of Cumming, GA, sneaking little paintings in unsuspecting locations. Stops included the library, a local restaurant, a couple of gas station pumps, a few flower pots and a bench at a busy shopping center. After I made the drop I posted hints on social. Then I stood back for a few moments to see if I could spot someone finding it. I was amazed at how many people were oblivious to the art that was in plain sight!
At this point is was getting late and I was tired. I had one painting left but the original spot I had in mind was too far to drive. I started back home but then I saw the hospital ahead. Something told me to stop there. I thought, "maybe a hardworking doctor or nurse might find my art? Or maybe a patient who could use a little cheer?" I went with my gut and put my final piece, a little crab painted on a wood panel, out under a walkway.
Operation: Wait and See
Once I got home I eagerily scrolled my social accounts to see if anything had been found and tagged. Total, I think 2 or 3 people posted their finds - each one expressing gratitude and the thrill of their discoveries. Of course I was hoping for more posts but I went to bed with a great feeling and a full heart. It wouldn't be until the next morning that I would realize just how special this day would be.
I woke up to find an instagram message from a woman named Kasey. It read:
Your crab painting is safe and sound, will do a post as soon as I can. My husband and I had our first baby yesterday, a baby boy named Dax. He ran out to the car to get something and found some trash in my car door. He went to a random building on the Northside Forsyth hospital campus and spotted "something" and wanted to check it out.
He found the beautiful painting of the crab! It was so meant to be we can't even explain. Our baby boy has an ocean animal themed nursery and it couldn't be more perfect. We treasure it so much and randomly finding it the day our son was born was so very special"
What Happened Next
Y'all, I completely lost it. Matter of fact, I'm tearing up now just typing it out. A few months later she shared a photo of the painting in the nursery. And she was right - it was PERFECT!
As an artist you live for moments like this - the knowledge that
something you created brought pure happiness to someone else.With Kasey's permission I shared our serendipitous exchange on social. I think it was my most liked and commented post from all of 2021! Better yet, I got to meet Kasey in person when she attended one of my local paint & sip classes. And guess what we painted that night - a BEACH SCENE! Of course we painted a little crab on it. I've even enjoyed following along with her and watching Dax get bigger by the day.
Particpate in Art & Found 2022
If you're any type of creator, please do yourself a favor and particpate in this year's Art & Found Day. I can't explain how great a feeling it was to share my art wtih my community...meeting Kasey and Dax was just icing on the cake! Of course you can do it on your own, but when you register on the offical site you'll get added to a map showing where all of the participating artists are located. People can check the map to see if any artists are near (and who to follow for clues). As of this moment there are over 500 artists in 37 countries participating and that list is growing daily.
This year I'm planning to partner with a group of local artist friends to really blow this thing out. We're based mostly in the Alpharetta/East Cobb area of metro-Atlanta so if you're local then keep your eyes peeled on that day. I'm also planning to leave clues in advance on Instagram and Facebook pages leading up to March12th. Feel free to stalk my socials if you want a leg up. More details coming soon!