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The Gift
On view Tuesday, September 4 – Sunday, October 14, 2018

Closing Reception: Saturday, October 13, 2018 from 7:00 – 10:00 pm

The Gift is an exhibition of Free Art created by Athens and Atlanta area artists, on view in Creature Comforts Gallery from September 4 – October 15, 2018. The closing reception party will be Saturday, October 13 from 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Much of the artwork from the show will be “dropped” in Athens the following weekend—October 19 through October 21. Follow #CCBCFreeArt on Instagram to see when the art goes out! 

Information about the show can be found here and here. Burt read on below for an in-depth look at the Free Art movement composed by our Get Artistic summer intern, Becca Gross, and discover the reasons the show is called The Gift. 

If you’ve seen The Gift on display in our gallery over the past month, you may have encountered some unfamiliar terms: the Free Art Movement, Free Art Fridays, #FAFATH…what does it mean?

Here’s a quick rundown: Typically on Fridays, artists will leave (or “drop”) a piece of art in a random location in their city, snap a picture, and post it to Instagram with a Free Art hashtag. In Athens, this hashtag is #FAFATH, for “Free Art Friday Athens.” In Atlanta, it’s #FAFATL, and so on. Those in the know may seek out the object using the picture as a location clue, but any passerby could pick it up. The lucky finder of the artwork is encouraged to claim it by commenting on the original social media post.

Picture this. You’re walking down a street in Atlanta when you stumble upon this funny figure stuck to a light pole or a garden wall. 

What do you do? Its creator, the Atlanta based artist known as Evereman, embellishes every piece with “4U” as a clue. No strings attached, no money exchanged—a gift from the artist to you. 

Evereman, who is featured in The Gift, began creating these small, wooden faces with his young son all the way back in 2003, dropping the figures around the city each Sunday as a family activity. Utilizing the robot face as a sort of friendly avatar, the artist hoped that “seeing this easily recognizable figure in public [would] help [individuals] feel more connected and less alone.”  

Recognizing the popularity of his art with the public, Evereman started hosting “Production Parties” at his home studio. These small gatherings invited people from the community to hang out and make Evereman pieces to release into the city. Many Atlanta-area Free Artists were first introduced to the concept of Free Art through Evereman’s Production Parties, hence why Evereman is considered the father of the Free Art movement in the U.S. 

Coincidentally, a near-identical practice emerged in London at roughly the same time. The British artist known as My Dog Sighs began leaving original paintings, prints, and drawings in public spaces affixed with tags that read “Free art, to take home and enjoy.” The weekly practice, which was initially chronicled on Flickr, was dubbed “Free Art Friday” and spotlighted on the BBC’s The Culture Show in 2006. In the years since, the Free Art movement and the #FreeArtFriday hashtag have spread worldwide, with established Free Art communities now active in most major cities.  

Here in Athens, the artist known as Athulhu is at the forefront of the Free Art movement, facilitating events like the month-long art hunt of 2016 and the Free Art Easter Egg Hunt in 2018. Athulhu advocates the idea that anyone can make art, not just professionals. Among Free Artists, there are as many working artists who might sell their art as there are hobbyists whose only creative outlet is Free Art. What unites them, according to Athulhu, is that “[we are] a group of people who believe in giving back to their communities through art,” as he said in a 2016 Red & Black interview. The artists share a desire to engage their communities with art in a way that inspires a closer connection to their neighbors, their city, and their environment.  

While “Free Art” became popular with the rise of social media, many artists prefer the term “Gift Art.” When I visited Evereman’s home studio last August, he explained that gift-giving involves more depth, thought, and sacrifice than offering something up for free. “There’s life in a gift,” he suggested. This concept is strikingly like author Lewis Hyde’s argument in his 1983 book called “The Gift,” the inspiration for the CCBC Gallery show title. In his book, Hyde describes creative work as a living spirit that connects the artist and the audience, but the connection dies soon as the recipient loses sight of this spirit.

Put simply, it’s all about intention. 

Art’s unconditional value is in its potential to benefit society in meaningful way, perhaps inspiring transformative experiences in others. By gifting art to their communities, Free Artists remind us that the gift of creativity exceeds the bounds of monetary value. Free Art connects, inspires, and injects positivity when you least expect it.  

Becca Gross was the Get Artistic summer 2018 intern. Becca spent the summer helping with hands-on art activities at Get Artistic events, installing exhibitions in the CCBC Gallery, and providing curatorial research assistance for upcoming exhibitions. She graduated in May 2018 with a BA in Art History from the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art.

Interested in becoming the next Get Artistic intern? Email the Get Artistic Program Lead, Madeline Bates, for information: [email protected]