The story behind the Tiny Street Art Project in Raleigh

Perhaps you’ve seen, when walking around Fletcher park or the Glenwood South neighborhood, whimsical collages with witty sayings.

The Tiny Street Art Project, created by Erin Greenawald, is just getting started. Raleigh Convergence asked Erin to share more about the project:

tiny street art project
All photos by Erin Greenawald (Tiny Street Art Project).

Raleigh Convergence: Could you describe what the Tiny Street Art Project is, and what you hope people feel when they see it?

Erin: The Tiny Street Art Project consists of little pieces of art lovingly created as a distraction for me and then placed around town so others can enjoy them on these walks we all seem to be going on a lot more these days.

Currently they’re all collage art because I took a class on it at NC State Crafts Center (with amazing local artist Jillian Ohl) earlier this year and am feeling a lot of energy there, but the medium could change (after all, I’ve still got 90+ days of this to go!).  I’ve always been obsessed with street art and love that feeling of coming across something unexpected in my environment.

Whether or not each specific piece resonates with a person, I hope they feel a little joy in finding something new and that perhaps it will make them excited to explore more and look a little closer at the space around them, even though we can’t go far right now. 

The collage above was inspired by this tweet by Elissa Washuta.

RC: Some of these speak to the reality we’re in (like the grocery store run, above, or the woman literally escaping into her art). How do you balance the whimsy and reality?

EG: I honestly try not to think too much about it! Humor has always been a big part of how I cope with things, so as I’m sifting through my materials each day, I look for images that connect with what I’m experiencing in isolation, or that I’ve heard from others.

Once I make myself chuckle, I run with it.  This is obviously not to make light of the situation. But I, for one, find comfort in the fact that I can both recognize how sad and scary the situation is (which I probably spend too much time mulling on) while also seeing how utterly absurd it all is, especially for people like me who are privileged enough to have safe homes and solid financial footing and still-healthy loved ones, meaning one of the biggest hardships we’re facing is just going stir crazy. 

Like, when did our spacious two bedroom get so small? Isn’t it weird that brands are still marketing spring fashion to me? How am I craving MORE sugar today?!

I also hope the silliness helps some folks go a little easier on themselves around things that they’re thinking and feeling right now. Gosh, we’re all just trying to figure this out, so eat all the cookies if that’s what you need, then laugh at yourself instead of feeling shame.  

RC: What is it like for you to create during this pandemic? Why did you decide to do something?

EG: I’ve always been big on having a hands-on creative hobby. I’m a writer by day, and this type of activity gets me out of my head (and away from the screens) for a little bit. Lately pottery has been my thing, but once all the community studios shut down I felt a bit unmoored. I knew I should build a creative practice into my stay-at-home days for my own wellbeing, but initially I had a hard time finding the motivation.  

Luckily for me, #the100dayproject by Lindsay Jean Thomson started at the beginning of April. This yearly tradition, which encourages you to pick a small creative project and do one a day for 100 days, turned out to be just the structure I needed to actually prioritize creativity right now. When I’m in the zone of working on my daily piece, I have an hour or two where I feel a release from whatever might be making me anxious that day. 

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RC: Where can people see these? 

EG: Go out around Raleigh and look carefully! In all seriousness, I hope people engage with these in-person, and I’ve created a map with rough markings of where I’ve placed them to help folks find them. Currently they’re quite centered around my neighborhood, but we’re getting saturated so I promise I’ll venture further soon!  

People can also follow along on Instagram @tinystreetartproject. If you make some art and hang it in public for all of Raleigh to see, feel free to tag me! I’d love if this became a movement that’s bigger than me of people creating little pockets of beauty.

About Erin Greenawald: She is a freelance writer, editor and content maker who works with entrepreneurs and business leaders on ghostwriting and content marketing, bringing chops from over five years spent building The Muse’s beloved career publication, and a stint helping folks fall in love with their cities as the EIC at Offline Media

Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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