ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Building a sense of community during a pandemic can have its challenges, but one artist has figured out a way to bring people together through shared art.
Shawn Bungo, 43, moved to Ann Arbor last year from Knoxville, Tennessee.
The full-time glass artist said he used to hide his work around Knoxville when he walked his dog for people to find. The gesture turned into a ‘Take Art Leave Art’ box outside of his home. It was an effort he has launched again, this time at his new home in south Ann Arbor off of Michigan Avenue.
“I was excited to reconnect with a new community,” said Bungo.
Bungo said the 'Take Art Leave Art' box concept is simple: artwork is left for people to take, and anyone is welcome to take a piece of artwork if they, in turn, leave their own.
“From poems to miniature drawings to photographs to weird crafts . . . it doesn’t have to be fine art or anything like that,” he said.
The variety artwork, Bungo said, hopefully inspires other people to create.
He even built a gallery on the top of his box in Ann Arbor to showcase some of the community's work.
“I call it the micro gallery . . . and that’s made it even more fun,” said Bungo.
The artist said the box has been up since the summer, but that it really took off just a few weeks ago after he posted about it on an Ann Arbor community Facebook page.
When asked what his favorite piece of left artwork has been, he mentioned one that paid tribute to his furry friend.
“Somebody downloaded a picture of my dog and made a drawing . . . it’s a cartoon drawing of my dog, it’s sweet,” he said. “It was a little more special.”
Bungo said he hopes he can start attending art shows again soon, but, in the meantime, the 'Take Art Leave Art' box will continue to spread a little joy and drive inspiration.
“I love it, because I feel like the community is key with being an artist,” he said. “Being able to connect with the community, that, in turn, inspires me to make things.”