Davidson Library recently unveiled a participatory art installation made entirely of Post-it notes.
The collaborative campus art project spells out the words “TO DO” in 3×3 inch neon-pink sticky notes, set against a background of yellow Post-its. Since Monday, students, staff and faculty have been jotting down their personal to-do lists— full of reminders, insults, tributes and advice—and adding them to the mural. Visitors are encouraged to contribute their ‘to-do’ notes to the art project before it closes at the end of October.
According to Lisa Koch, Metadata Librarian for UCSB’s Davidson Library, the art has generated great interest from the campus community since its debut.
“[The reactions] have been overwhelmingly positive,” Koch said. “People seem to really enjoy it, and they’ve stopped and a lot have contributed. Students have really been taking an interest in it.”
After hearing about Illegal Art — the brainchild of a group of artists dedicated to creating “interactive public art to inspire self-reflection, thought and human connection” — Koch contacted the group and worked with co-founder Otis Kriegel to bring the installation to the university.
The notes already display a wide array of messages, including “Fuck bitches, get $,” “Annex the Sudetenland” and “Find out where all my pink and yellow post-its went.” Aside from entertaining quips, the wall also features messages of kindness and hope, such as “Save a life by giving an organ to someone in need.”
Kriegel said “To Do” uses common office supplies to expose the often overlooked common ground that everyone shares.
“‘To Do’ is like many of our projects — it plays upon a familiar icon in all of our lives, which is the Post-it,” Kriegel said. “Who hasn’t used a Post-it? Everyone has used a Post-it at some point in their lives. ‘To Do’ also uses the experience we all have creating to-do lists. We’re all trying to do 8 million things and we’re trying to do them at 8 million miles an hour.”
The mural is located on the first floor of the library across from the elevators, an area that has now become a hotspot of interest and involvement for the student body.
“I didn’t know what it was at first — all I saw were the words ‘to do’,” second-year communication major Kathleen Reyes said. “But when you look closely at it, you see that some of [the Post-its] are just really down to earth and some of them are kind of silly. I think it’s a good de-stresser for the first week, to break the ice. It’s also cool because it’s anonymous. I never would have thought of it.”
While all participatory projects begin as inspiring works of art, Kriegel said they aren’t truly finished until the public adds its own touch.
“We founded Illegal Art to really blur the boundary between art and the viewer,” Kriegel said. “Even though we want our pieces to be able to stand alone without participation, it’s that participation that we feel makes the final conceptual piece of art.”
Additionally, Kriegel said the collaborative aspect of art-making adds an element of risk and excitement to the process.
“To be totally honest with you, we love the public,” Kriegel said. “It’s fun and it’s exciting. It’s totally unpredictable and it always keeps you on your toes. If the public doesn’t relate to the project, they’re not going to interact with it. We’re debuting a project in New York [today] and we’ll find out within a few hours whether it will work or not and that’s part of the excitement.”