Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Puzzle Installation & Collaborative Project [Etsy: This Handmade Life]

The Puzzle Installation & Collaborative Project: "

Tim_bio.jpgArt makes Tim Kelly's heart palpitate. He's been an artist since birth, really, when his first finger painting was made with placenta fluid on the hospital bed sheets. His creative talents are currently surfacing through his series of paintings called Similar Alien. Tim also teaches creative workshops called Art is Good, which nurture expression and facilitate creativity through fine art.

Tim is currently growing a group art installation called The Puzzle Installation & Collaborative Project. The original Puzzle Project was created as a three-dimensional installation for an arts festival and has since grown to over 4,000 unique puzzle pieces. Etsy admin met with Tim at Etsy HQ to create our own contribution to the Puzzle Project. We loved the idea so much that we wanted to share it with you!


The Puzzle Installation & Collaborative Project consists of over 4,000 uniform 24"x 24" puzzle pieces, assembled together as a three-dimensional artistic structure. Artists of all ages have contributed their individual voices collectively to form this historic project. It is a simple way for creative people — both professional artists and non-artists alike — to express themselves and tell their own story. The Puzzle Project exists as proof that art is essential to life. The installation is a testament to the fact that art is a powerful form of expression and collaboration is a beautiful thing.

It started with 800 assembled puzzle pieces created by hundreds of artists during the 2009 MCAC Teen Arts Festival and has grown into a collaboration between artists from more than 15 states and four countries. It continues to grow every day.


Etsy admin participating in a Puzzle Project workshop

Creative workshops, known as Art is Good, are the platform for most of the puzzle making. A Puzzle Project crew will come to a participating school, arts group or other organization to share the story, provide materials and help assist the puzzle piece creation. The participants need only to bring their good ideas and we encourage them to make their own meaningful art. After the workshop, the group displays their pieces together as a micro-installation in a location of their choice, inviting friends and family to see their collaborative jigsaw puzzle.


The end goal of the project is to assemble puzzle pieces from all over the world for a public exhibition in New York City. Once united, the installation will be at least 9 feet tall by over 1,250 feet long!

People from several arts groups, the YMCA, Americorps, various brain tumor and cancer support groups, Compassionate Friends, library systems and dozens of schools have participated in the project. In July, Etsy employees had their own puzzle making workshop. This group was but one of the hundred of artists from Brooklyn, across the country and around the world.


Examples of what artists created on their puzzle pieces include:

  • Artists at The Secondary School of Applied Arts in Kosice, Slovakia made puzzle pieces representing historic locations in their country as part of the Comenius Project.

  • A tattoo artist participated by creating a flying pig with the words, “Anything is Possible."

  • Parents from the Compassionate Friends organization made puzzle pieces in honor of children that had passed away.

  • One clever artist made a plaster cast of her arm and fist, mounted it to her puzzle piece, busting out of newspaper articles, and added the words, “Punchlines make the best headlines.”

We ask that artists don't make just anything on their puzzle piece, but to create something meaningful to them. The result is an amazing display, likened to the AIDS Quilt, and we hope to gain similar recognition. There are many amazing, diverse puzzle pieces — some are painted, some are collaged, some have just words, and some are mixed media. Together they tell a beautiful story about people, life, love and art.

Puzzle_Seb.jpgIf you cannot participate through a workshop, we invite you to make pieces on your own, as a group or individually! We can provide a template or a sample puzzle piece to get you started. Contact Tim at tk@timkellyartist.com for more information.

As with many art projects, we have limited funds and resources. Most of what we have created thus far has been made possible through small grants and my own money, time and effort. We are also currently seeking a venue with significant exposure that is easily accessible to the masses for the NYC installation. If anyone has any ideas, recommendations, funding, locations, or a rich uncle that likes art...we are all ears. Feel free to contact me at tk@timkellyartist.com.

To learn more or to take a look at existing puzzle pieces, go to PuzzleArtProject.com.

Have you participated in any collaborative art projects? Tell us about it in the comments below.

This Handmade Life | Artistic Endeavors Series | How-to Craft Projects


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