People tend to fall into one of two camps around Thanksgiving time.
There are folks who hit the stores over the weekend to do some intense holiday shopping, and then there are people who complain about those people.
It might feel like you’re taking a stand when you scoff at frenzied shoppers crowding the malls on Black Friday. It might seem like you’re taking the higher ground when you shake your head coworkers scouring the internet for deals on Cyber Monday.
But gripes don’t change things…actions do.
That’s why Fox Valley artist, Scott Wong, is continuing a worldwide event he launched called Flood the Streets with Art!, which encourages people everywhere to create rather than consume this weekend.
Wong is known for working in the style of a street artist using aerosol paint to create graffiti-inspired works that often deliver a challenging social message.
Before Flood the Streets with Art!, he was originally connected with a similar effort called, Free Art Friday. Wong led the Wisconsin version for a few years.
The concept of Free Art Friday is to have artists leave a piece of art in a public space where someone will find it and take it home. It’s a random act of kindness that can also inspire interest in art within a community.
However, Wong says it was only himself and a few other artists participating in Free Art Friday – Wisconsin regularly. After dropping more than 130 pieces of art in the Appleton area, he saw an opportunity to expand the concept of Free Art Friday beyond just those who consider themselves artists.
“I started FLOOD the streets with ART! in hopes of obtaining a much larger following that could participate in this random act of kindness using art on a global/worldwide scale,” Wong says.
Of course, he says choosing Thanksgiving weekend was intentional.
“On Thanksgiving Day, the day before Black Friday, we all gather with family, friends and loved ones. We sit down to a large extravagant meal and give thanks for all our blessings and everything we have in life. On the very next day, we rush out in an uncivilized manner during the wee hours of the morning while pushing, shoving and trampling our fellow man all in the name of a $7.00 DVD player.”
That’s a common criticism of the holiday season. But Wong says it’s about more than over-consuming.
“The caveat to all that craziness is the fact that we’ve somehow adopted this mindset that the value and worth of the love we have for our loved ones is now determined by the amount of money we spend on them during the course of the holiday season, and of course, Black Friday.”
How You Can Really Take a Stand on Black Friday
This will be the third year for Flood the Streets with Art!, and Scott Wong is hoping to see the movement continue to spread from person to person.
“Rather than battle the creatures known as consumerism and materialism on Black Friday, I’m asking everyone participate in my event by opting to try something new and perhaps create a new tradition to kick off the start of your holiday season.”
What Scott wants people everywhere to do is use some of their free time to create something, and then “drop it” somewhere so someone else can find it and have it for free.
You don’t need to consider yourself an artist to make art. Wong says there are first-graders as well as renowned artists taking part this year.
“Art of any kind is welcome, from Crayola masterpieces to extravagant oil paintings,” he explains. “There are glassblowers, woodworkers, metalworkers, musicians and quilters as well as most any other art and craft type you can conceive.”
Maybe you don’t have a skill like that. If not – maybe it’s time to choose one.
It starts with overcoming the fear of making something. We all have those voices in our heads telling us we aren’t good enough, that we shouldn’t even bother. But push through that – and the experience of making art will end with satisfaction, pride and joy.
Art is one of the things that makes us human. More and more humans are joining Flood the Streets with Art!, which is a trend Wong expects will continue.
“There were approximately 1,000 artists that dropped art all over the world during the first annual FLOOD the streets with ART! event. During its second year, there were approximately 3,000 artists involved,” he says, and this year could be even bigger.
“There are currently artists on board in all 50 U.S. states and 20+ different countries representing the event.”
Can Creating Art Make Your Life More Fulfilling?
Scott Wong would love to spend all his time being creative and pursuing the things he enjoys most. But he can’t.
Just like many others, he has a day job sitting at a desk where he counts down the hours until the weekend.
Sometimes, even the act of creating can turn into a grind. Scott admits that he chose to scale back on his artwork in the past year or so.
He says he needed to restore some balance to his life.
“I just felt like I got a little burned out. I was failing to realize the amount of time that I was spending on weekly art pieces. Other things I used to enjoy very much (photography, hiking, etc.) were all of a sudden cast aside, and I felt like I needed to re-evaluate how I was spending my time.”
Just like all of us, Scott is on his own journey in pursuit of happiness. He believes in taking advantage of every opportunity.
“It’s insanely important that we make the most of our time on this planet and find a balance that works best for each of us individually,” he says.
“If you knew you only had 24 hours to live, did you live your life being the best person you can possibly be? Did you make the most of every minute? This is currently how I’m attempting to live my life. I’m just trying to be the best Scott Wong that I can possibly be.”
Flood the Streets with Art! is more than just a chance to do something nice. It’s more than making an anti-consumerism statement on Black Friday. It’s more than a push to be more creative.
No matter how small your contribution may seem, this is a chance to be part of something bigger while leaving your own personal mark on the world.
If you plan to participate in Flood the Street with Art!, you can join the event on Facebook to find out more and let everyone know you’re on board.