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Sending positivity through public art

by Jessica Kinnari November 1, 2016
Sending positivity through public art

Montreal artist Aquil Virani is leaving his artwork at bus stops to spread a little love around the city

Most artists just want people to enjoy their art, and Montreal-based visual artist Aquil Virani has a new idea about how to do just that. Virani’s latest venture, the Giveaway Project, is his way of injecting positivity into Montrealers’ lives. The project involves taking the various artworks he has left over from his many art shows and art marathons, and leaving them at bus stops for people to take home. The paintings vary in size and theme, but they are all there to inspire positivity.

Virani chose bus stops as the drop-off location because, while it is a practical place given the relative shelter from the weather, it also acts as a community hub. People who wait at bus stops come from all walks of life and are always going somewhere.

Virani said he simply leaves the artworks at the bus stop and walks away— he does not wait around in the bushes to see who picks up his piece. To create a video about the project, Virani filmed himself dropping the artwork off and sometimes, while he was packing up his belongings, the camera caught people taking the art piece. However, he said this is never done intentionally, “I’m ok with not knowing what happens after,” he said.

While he said there is no real theme guiding his choice of which artworks to leave—in fact, the selection is quite random—he chooses artwork that he believes appears more positive and will inspire happiness.

Each piece comes with a slip of paper with Virani’s website, contact info and, most importantly, permission to take the artwork. Not only is this project about making someone’s day, it is also about taking back community spaces. Virani said he thinks a lot of people won’t necessarily use community spaces, like parks, for fear of intruding on someone else. “I want this project to also remind everyone that community spaces are for you,” Virani said. “It isn’t no one’s space, it’s everybody’s space.”

Virani said he wants to use this project not only as a positive method of giving away his old (and sometimes new) art pieces, but also as a way to bring art out of its traditional art gallery environment. “Art is for everyone. It’s made to be enjoyed by everyone, not just the art world,” he said.

In most of his art pieces, Virani said he aims to create art that not only looks pretty but also means something, both to him and the receiver. He likes to “make art that both engages the heart, the mind, and is socially aware,” he said. Virani said the Giveaway Project is an example of how fun, socially-experimental projects can make someone’s day. He said he uses this project as a way to add positivity to the world, especially at a time when all the world crises are spreading such negative energy. He also said it helps him combat all the things on the news and in the world that sometimes “get him down.”

To see more of Virani’s work and a video of the Giveaway Project, check out his website.

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