Guerilla art for kids

    I admit. I love street art. It’s illegal, I know. But a positive message here and there chalked on a sidewalk won’t hurt anybody, right? I now have accomplices for bringing little cheerful surprises to unaware Northwest Philly neighbors. My kids and I are on a mission this early side of spring to bring hopeful guerilla art to our neighborhood. We’re using books like “How to Be an Explorer of the World” by Keri Smith and her excellent Guerilla Art Kit to create ways to inspire us to make art inside on cold days, and spread that art out into the world on the warmer days.

    Last week, we tackled a project that both my readers and non-readers both loved. I cut up thin strips of paper and laid them out with various writing implements, stickers, and other materials to decorate with. I wrote up a few examples on a notebook of some positive messages that people might like to find like “You look nice today.” and “Make art. Be happy.” My oldest daughter took it from there. She proceeded to come up with all kinds of inspiring sentences ranging from “The world is full of everything good.” to “You are everything nice.”

    My younger boys decorated her sayings with designs and stickers. When it gets warmer, we’re going to fold up these little strips of paper and hide them in cracks, crevices, and nooks throughout the neighborhood, and possibly even between the pages of some books. Shhh! Don’t spoil the surprise. You might be waiting for the bus and find a little scrap of paper that tells you things will be alright, which is exactly what you needed to hear.

    Another project was an idea I saw on Pinterest, the new social networking site that allows people to post virtual pinboards of all kinds of things they are interested in. There’s a lot of fashion, beauty, and design pins on a majority of boards, but there’s also a good deal of exciting art and craft project ideas to do with your kiddies. One post was a simple flyer with the words “Take What You Need”. Underneath the words was a bunch of tags cut out to rip off the end of the flyer, where you would normally see people’s names and phone numbers to contact. Instead there were words like love, peace, joy, freedom, healing, understanding, compassion, and beauty. I could use items on those tags every day. I think our neighbors could too.

    So we replicated a few of those flyers and plan to put them up in a busy corridor near Germantown Avenue. If you run across one of these signs, feel free to take what you need. One 15-year-old I knew saw the signs we were making and said people would probably take the whole thing. That’s the beauty of positive guerilla art that I hope to instill in my kids. You put inspiring messages and pictures out into the world, and you let them go. Hopefully the people that see them keep spreading the positive words.

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