South Midwood resident Lori Hayes is leaving Brooklyn at the end of July, but some of her artwork will remain behind on the streets of Flatbush.
“It’s like leaving footprints,” Hayes explained, as she nestled one of her creations comprising a small painted square embedded in resin on a piece of shaped “found metal” into a broken bit of sidewalk on Farragut Road at Bedford Avenue.
By the time Hayes finishes her unconventional art installation, Leave-Taking, she will have deposited 27 of the miniature creations in locations she often walked past during her five years in the borough.
But, she doesn’t want them to stay in place. Rather, said Hayes, she is hoping that passersby, channeling their inner child, will notice the glittering artifacts— whose central painted squares are all cut from a single painting — and pick them up and take them home. This gives a second meaning to the name of the installation— not only taking leave, but leaving objects for others to take.
“Some get thrown away, some are taken,” Hayes noted. “If a few end up in a landfill, that’s interesting too.”
Posters hung nearby and a handwritten note on the back of each tell the finders to take it, as well as directing them to Hayes’ website, lorihayesart.com, where they can explore the installation as well as her other artworks, and tell her about their discovery experience.
“If even one person gets something out of this, I’m satisfied,” she said.
A major part of the endeavor is documentation, said Hayes, who photographs each miniature installation in place, and takes rubbings of the sidewalk with and without the artwork.
Passersby pay her little attention, she said. She has been scolded by some for littering. But, often, Hayes confessed, “I get the New York kind of reaction, which is no reaction.”
The potential interactions with strangers fascinate her. One man, she said, came over to tell her in broken English that her sidewalk repair was “no good. He said, you use concrete,” Hayes recalled.
Another observer noted, “Basically, what you do is take paper, make a mess and call it art,” Hayes said. “I said, sure.”
Those who walked by after Hayes left one installation at the corner of East 21st Street and Glenwood Road seemed unimpressed. “It doesn’t look like art to me,” said one woman, while another noted, “I thought it was garbage, but it is cute. I will look out for them.”
But, not everyone is so blasé. Hayes has already received a response from a delighted finder. The email message read, “I was on my way home from the playground with my family when I noticed the poster advertising the art. After I read it I was looking out for little pieces of copper in the cracks on the floor. I was able to find number 27, number 14B,number 14D, number 14C, and number 14A. I really enjoyed the little treasure hunt.”
This is not the first time Hayes has left her creations in public places for others to take. A couple of years ago, she said, she “slipped 31 books in the stacks” at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. Her first year in New York, she left 101 paintings attached to the inner walls of subway cars with Velcro.