WitchCrafts: Crafts for Witches Interviews Michael DeMeng of Art Abandonment
I’m an avid crafter. You will always find me working on something or many somethings. Whenever I go somewhere I take a project with me, I have to have my hands moving in some creative way at every moment.
I’m also an enthusiastic giver! I love giving people gifts more than receiving them. If I know something is going to make someone happy I have to give them it. Nothing makes me happier, then knowing that I caused someone’s joy. Most of the lovelies I create are gifts for others.
A few months ago, while trolling facebook groups, someone mentioned a group they were in called “Art Abandonment” where they created their crafts and left them for people to find and how it brightened their day & the day of the people who found the art!
This intrigued me. It’s everything I love to do, create and bring happiness to people, but these are strangers! And leaving my work to the wind??? I had to learn more about it. I joined the group. I have been a member for 2 months now. This group makes you feel all sorts of ways. Mostly just touched by happiness. You hear the excitement from the artists. You see the letters from the receivers of the found items & learn how you have touched their lives. You can not feel anything but good.
I wanted to dive deeper into the group and see who began it and their reasons. I found Michael DeMeng, the originator of the group, a kind, extremely talented artist, who was gracious enough to grant me an interview!
Jennifer Wright (JW): What is ‘Art Abandonment’?
Michael DeMeng (MD): Well, basically it’s group of artists (some of which are professionals, many of which just love the processes of creating) who wander around like sneaky gnomes leaving little surprises for unsuspecting recipients.
(artwork by Tamara Miles of Art Abandonment group on Facebook)
JW: Did you come up with the idea of Art Abandonment? If not, where did you hear about it?
MD: My wife, Andrea Matus and I started the group, but I don’t think leaving art for some stranger to find is my invention. I think it’s done all the time in many different ways. I think street art is a version of it. In my case, I often sketch in cafes and every so often I would leave the sketch behind for a person to find. It’s always exciting to imagine the future of something you create when you set it adrift. In any case, Art Abandonment was a way where folks could share the creations AND Abandoners are encouraged to leave the Art Abandonment email address so that if the piece of art is found, the recipient can share that it was found and whatever other information they’d like to include.
JW: What forms of art do the people who join the group abandon?
MD: The sky’s the limit. All sorts of goodies get abandoned. Everything from paintings to jewelry, to sculptures. There is even one person, Mary England, who took it to another level and started decorating bus stops for folks to have a little party as they waited for the bus. So, there are lots of options.
JW: Where do you abandon the art & how do you let people know that it is ‘Abandoned Art’?
MD: Where you drop a piece of art is important. Personally, I think it’s more fun to be sneaky, in that the finder comes across it in the strangest of places. Granted that might take a while to be discovered, but as long as it weather-proof, who cares. I really don’t encourage folks to abandon in retail stores, only because it can often be confusing whether something is part of the stores inventory. I’m also not a big fan of the bathroom abandonment…that just kind of gives me the heebie jeebies.
Folks can let finders know it’s abandoned with a card or message telling them so. This card will also have the email that they can inform the Art Abandonment admins about the find.
(jewelry by Lana Coe of Art Abandonment group on Facebook)
JW: Do you see a lot of feedback from people who find these pieces of art? What is the usual response from those who find the pieces?
MD: It’s amazing how many pieces of art are reported found. It’s pretty cool because, they are all so supportive of the idea. Often you’ll hear stories about how it made their day, but you’ll also hear stories how it really made a big difference in their life. I remember early on in the group’s formation, someone found a little charm that said “Hope”. The finder wrote back saying how important this was to them at this moment because on that day they became homeless. So it just goes to show you what a little offering of kindness can do.
JW: What type of person, do you find, usually joins the group? Where are your members from?
MD: I don’t think there is a “kind of person”. This is all over the map and the members are from all over the map as well. One thing we have started encouraging participants to do is to start up local chapters in their community. This is nice because it allows Abandoners to have outings with other Abandoners and make an outing of it.
JW: How does abandoning the art make the artist feel? Is it hard to create something with your hands & heart and then just let it go?
MD: All in all, I think it’s a great feeling. Now if someone is a professional artist, it certainly doesn’t make sense to give away everything…one has to make a living after all, but I don’t think a periodic offering of kindness to the world is a bad thing. I certainly don’t abandon as much as most of the group participants, but I think that it’s really up to the individual how much they want to dive into the project. As for letting something go that you created…everyone has a different experience. For myself, I see art as something created by me to share to the world (whether that is selling, exhibiting or abandoning), so I it makes sense it goes and lives a life without me.
(dream catcher by Gabriela Guerra of Art Abandonment group on Facebook)
JW: Why do you believe artists do Art Abandonment? What do they get from it?
MD: I think it is really about a feeling that something you create has meaning. It’s really important for a finder to be touched by a piece of art, BUT there is also great value to the artist. Most artists (if not all) want their work to have significance and value to others.
JW: What do you think the people who find your art pieces get from this experience?
MD: It’s hard to say. I do suspect that abandonments don’t get picked up right away. I’m sure someone has to be drawn to it to learn what it is and pick it up. So who picks it up is a mystery usually and that’s ok because it allows my mind to make up elaborate conjectures about the life of an abandoned piece of art.
JW: Do you feel Covid has put a damper on people picking-up pieces?
MD: Yeah, certainly initially. I think that picking up a piece of art….or anything was not a good idea. Personally it would not be something I’d be doing until fully vaccinated.
(faery houses by Patsy Langanki of Art Abandonment group on Facebook)
JW: Finally, Has this experience changed YOU personally in any way? Or do you have any stories you would like to share?
MD: I think if there was one thing I got from this, it is that sometimes the smallest thing can make the biggest difference. Most of the time these abandonments bring joy to the finder, but once in a while it can be more meaningful than that. Who knows where or when but that’s what makes this process amazing.
I want to thank Michael DeMeng for taking the time to do this interview with me and for making this group. It has added to my life blessings and to many others bountiful blessings!
If you would like to join the facebook group Art Abandonment you can do so at this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ArtAbandonment/
To view the art of Michael DeMeng, learn more about him, his podcast, his teaching, & what he does, you can visit his site at: https://www.michaeldemeng.com/
About the Author:
Jennifer Wright is a witch on a path of change that is always winding. She founded PaganPagesOrg in the hopes of giving Pagans a platform to share and learn without judgment.
She loves to create in her spare time and you can find her Creations, Jewelry, & Magickal Witch Bottles at: www.facebook.com/TwistedWitchesShoppe/