Nina Boesch is a Brooklyn-based mom, designer, artist and founder of Stay Home. Reach Out, a global kindness activity that allows strangers to write each other postcards from all over the world! Since the launch of the website last week, the project has already reached over 2,500 users with postcard-writers in multiple countries in North America, Europa and Asia. Interested in participating? Share your isolation story in a postcard to a stranger and show the person that we’re all in this together. You’ll soon receive a postcard yourself! Learn more about Nina below.
Can you tell us about your art practice and how working with children inspires you?
I create collages from small cut-up pieces of used and expired MetroCards. My art speaks to a very broad audience. I think most people appreciate my art for the medium and the urban character of my collages. Children, however, look at my art in a whole different way. They see the recycle-aspect and the fact that you don’t need fancy art supplies to make something colorful and fun. During workshops with children, I noticed that children appear to be much more spontaneous in how they approach things. It is inspiring to see that kids simply make art for art-making sake, while I often overthink art projects and have a hard time to find the right starting point for a new collage.
Your project Stay Home. Reach Out invites people to share their isolation stories with strangers all over the world by writing a postcard. Can you tell us how this project came to fruition?
I have been isolating with my boyfriend and my almost-2-year old son in Williamsburg for over 5 weeks. I always felt like today’s digital ways to stay connected with friends and family never truly comes from the heart. A handwritten postcard, on the other hand, is very personal and shows that someone took the time to put thoughts into writing and made an effort to physically mail it out. While I mailed out postcards to my family, I was thinking that there should be a way to reach out to strangers, too, and randomly put a smile on a someone’s face who may experience loneliness and isolation. And that’s when I came up with the Stay Home. Reach Out project and designed the website www.StayHomeReachOut.com. Thankfully a close web-developer friend of mine, Chris Manlapid, was immediately on board with the idea, helped me flesh out the concept and programmed the website.
You are known for making collages out of discarded Metrocards (which are always a huge hit during our annual Art Auction!) How is our desire for human connection and interaction reflected in your work?
When looking at my art from a distance you may only see the overall image, such as a Statue of Liberty, a water tower or a New York skyline. Only when you look closer, you’ll understand that each collage is solely made from small pieces of expired MetroCards. I often see people experience an aha-moment, when they look at my art for the first time. It is those moments when I realize that my collages act as a conversation starter. It is then that people ask me questions such as “How long did it take you to cut up all those MetroCards?” and “Where did you get so many MetroCards from?” I enjoy engaging with people, young and old, and answer their questions about my very upcycled venture.
Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?
Access to art provides the ultimate outlet for children, no matter which background they’re coming from. Whether a child is the popular kid at school, whether he or she lives in poverty, or whether he or she has a disability — what all children seem to have in common is creativity. To allow children to express themselves in creative ways provides them with a path and purpose. Creativity allows them to be in charge of their feelings, thoughts, and ideas, without being told what to do and what not to do. It is the ultimate freedom for children who may not always get to experience freedom in their everyday life.
Do you have a favorite memory of making art as a child?
My earliest childhood memories were about art-making. We always had pens and paper available and to paint and draw was always an option when we got bored. Don’t tell anyone, but at his office job, my dad kept stealing paper from the recycling room, so we could use it home to draw on. The back of the paper had binary codes printed on them. It was probably highly confidential. LOL!
Can you share a work or artist that inspires you to make art?
I get easily excited about art and I find new favorite artworks all the time. At the same time, I’m very picky about what I like and dislike. I absolutely love Robert Rauschenberg‘s black and white artworks, but many of his colorful collages are too “busy” for me. I also don’t know much about Thomas Ruff‘s body of work, but I am in love with his “press++” series — they are press photos with markings on them that add eerie but beautiful layers of depths to them.
Get involved at www.stayhomereachout.com
While our doors are closed, CMA is here for you and your family with at-home art projects to keep children entertained and engaged. However, every day we’re closed puts the future of CMA in further jeopardy.
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