By Branna Calloway (Cover photo Marnie Poirier’s yard)
August 15, 2016
The inspiration for Yard Art Day came from a Facebook post about an art exhibit in New York’s Times Square. Local photographer, Deborah Triplett tells us how the movement got its start: “You could send in a picture of your art, any kind and they would put it up [to be] seen by everyone traipsing through Times Square. And I thought it was a really cool idea.”
She let her mind wander to a particular kind of artist that she was particularly fond of, outsider artists. “You know those crazy people that put goofy stuff in their front yards just because they have to do something fun and creative,” Triplett said. This vibrantly creative idea wouldn’t quit as she thought about her own artistic beginnings as a “front yard kid” in Elkin, NC. “When I was a kid, you played in your front yard; you didn’t play in your backyard. To this day, I still think having fenced-in backyards is not the best idea because it segregates people and it shuts you off from your neighbors.”
She moved away from North Carolina in the early ‘70s, settling in New York and Los Angeles before coming home to the Queen City in the mid ‘80s. Fast forward to 2012, Yard Art Day’s beginnings, when the Democratic National Convention was in Charlotte’s own front yard. “I think art should be accessible to everyone and I’m a believer that we all, everyone innately, [are] creative. It’s just through life and circumstance [that] it’s squelched out of most of us. I think it’s still there. Yard Art Day just felt like a great excuse to say to people ‘go create something in your yard without any judgment. You don’t have to pay a fee to do it. Just do it.’” That first year during the DNC attracted a lot of attention with between 200-400 people joining the Facebook group within 48 hours.
Through the years, she’s found plenty of reasons to keep the movement going. “It pulls people from one neighborhood to go into neighborhoods they might not normally go into. [Normally,] they wouldn’t have a reason, but now they [do] because they want to go check out someone’s yard art. I like that it’s getting people into other parts of town.” Triplett’s plans for YAD to go beyond the confines of just ‘hoods or even city-wide: “I’d love to see it go global, pop up in other countries. Every year, we have had participants out of state. Like this year, we have South Carolina, Los Angeles and two in Florida.” Maybe a Yard Art Day road trip isn’t too far off.
Yard Art Day takes place every Labor Day. “It’s a good sort of exclamation point of the summer. The day people are supposed to play … the day people are supposed to not work.” Anyone from little kids and beginning artists to professionals like Juan Logan or Ilisa Millermoon is free to take part. One full day to express every creative whim you’ve ever put aside. The application process started in June and goes until the Friday before Labor Day. This year, the call has been extended to businesses, schools, gardens, and galleries. As long as your art can be seen from the street, you can participate in YAD. All you have to do is go onto the website and fill out an application. “Stir some stuff up.”
When Deborah Triplett was a little girl watching a gospel show on her B&W television, one line stuck out: If everyone could light just one little candle, what a bright world this would be. “That’s the reason I do Yard Art Day because I feel like there’s enough negative stuff in the world and I wanted to do something that brings people joy and my belief is that if enough people collectively did that, the world could be a better place.”
Thanks to the Arts & Science Council, YAD has new signs and some added support this year. With all that is happening in this mad world, we agree and hope the city spreads the word about this charming movement.
Here are some of our favorite Yard Art Day submissions from past years:
Join the Yard Art Day movement.
More about Deborah Triplett.
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