Word nerd and ruckus maker, Megan Atkinson, has been helping me give the 33k Task List Project a more eye-catching look, including the flyers like the one above. They're meant for local businesses, common areas in offices and other places where sister "listers" congregate. There's even a spot I can add stamped Post-its for women to take with them, so they don't forget.
I'm trying to collect 33,000 task lists from other women for an art installation. May I hang up this flyer or some self-addressed, upcycled envelopes on the bulletin board? It seems like an easy ask, right? When I dropped by Boxwood Coffee recently, I went for it (despite some reluctance about not wanting to be a pest or hold up the line).
After the women behind the counter told me it was cool, she asked, "Are you an artist?" In what felt like 33 minutes of silence, I stammered out something as eloquent as morse code. No. Not an artist. But I'm collecting lists. For an art installation. Ok. Thank you.
When I got back to my seat (admittedly, a little red-faced), her simple question triggered me in about 15 different ways. My head flooded with questions like:
- Who do you think you are creating a large-scale art project?
- Who do you think you are masquerading as an artist?
- What qualifies you to pester every woman you meet for their handwritten task lists?
I'm sure there were 467 more questions generated at the time. Yet, there was one question that stuck out:
Do you need to be an artist to make art?
Nope. I'm pretty sure anyone can make some art.
It was the word artist that made me chafe. To me (and good old Merriam-Webster), an artist is "a person skilled in one of the fine arts" or "one who is adept at something." Last time, I checked they weren't handing out black belts or anything for list-collecting.
If I wasn't an artist, then what the hell was I? You know, in case this question came up 3,000 more times during this project. After a chat with friend and creative upcycler, Amber Ladley, I think I found a happy medium. In the words of Santigold's Creator (which immediately popped into my head at the time):
Me, I'm a Creator
Thrill is to make it up
The rules I break got me a place
Up on the radar
Here's to making art, shifting the conversation and breaking some more rules.