Where will you be on August 24th between 11am and 4pm?
This year, somewhere in Stanley Park, Papergirl Vancouver’s volunteer cyclists will carefully pull pieces of rolled art, like newspapers reminiscent of a bygone era, from their bike baskets and distribute them to a delighted, unsuspecting public.
“The element of surprise is part of what makes Papergirl really exciting,” enthuses Roundhouse volunteer coordinator and Papergirl Vancouver lead Michele Mateus. “Recipients sometimes pull out their wallets and are surprised to learn that the item they are receiving really is a gift.”
Papergirl has its roots in Berlin, Germany. In 2005 Berlin’s city administrators, likening the hanging of posters to graffiti vandalism, banned such public art displays and imposed hefty fines and even jail terms on convicted offenders. The Papergirl movement emerged in Berlin as a response to this civic initiative and is steadily developing into a global phenomenon. More than 25 cities around the world now embrace the Papergirl concept: The Art of Giving Art.
“Getting the art out of the galleries and into a public space while promoting a non-commercial exchange and connection between artist, cyclist and the public is the philosophy behind Papergirl,” says Papergirl project manager Zoe Cassandra.
Papergirl also strives to address some of the issues highlighted in the Vancouver Foundation’s 2012 report on connection and engagement. Cassandra adds, “Participation in Papergirl can help combat feelings of isolation by encouraging artists, who tend toward working alone, to engage with the larger community.”
“Papergirl explodes contained artist community by allowing for more engagement between artists and the public.” –Papergirl Vancouver project champion and arts educator, Eryne Donahue.
“We really want to engage artists from outlying communities, too, and encourage them to participate in the Papergirl spirit,” says Donahue.
Currently, Donahue facilitates drop-in art making workshops at the Roundhouse and has developed an art making partnership with Coquitlam-based Place Des Arts.
Bicycle-themed block printing workshops are held regularly and participants are encouraged to upcycle unique objects such as household items, old bicycle parts and other gadgetry. “Sometimes the object is unrecognizable and breathing new life into it by making it an artistic object is one of the creative ways to repurpose an item,” says Donahue.
Who are the artists? Simply put. You are.
Anybody, young or old, experienced or novice, is invited to contribute their printed work to Papergirl Vancouver. Submissions are varied and sometimes even generational. “We’ve had an eight-year-old daughter, her mother and grandmother creating art together and submitting it to the exhibit.” says Mateus, “It really is heartwarming.”
So, will you be an artist, a cyclist, a recipient, or all three?
Visit Papergirl Vancouver for more information on how to participate.
By Jacqueline Steuart, Roundhouse Blog Team. Jacqueline is a graduate of the Print Futures: Professional Writing program at Douglas College, New Westminster. She is pleased to write about the dynamic and diverse culture of the Roundhouse and to be able to share it with our readers.