For two months I have been hiding woodcuts around Vermont in a project called “Lost And Found.” I’m a stencil artist who was getting tired of painting commissions and I wanted to do something fun for myself.
For my Mom’s 50th birthday we made a VW Bus photo booth and ever since that project I wanted to do more with a jigsaw and make woodcuts. After spending a few months working on pet portraits I decided to take a break from commissions and acquired a jigsaw from a coworker.
Cows For A Cause is a non profit campaign I started a few years ago and its symbol is an image of a cow who’s spots make up the map of the world. I sell paintings and donate 50%-100% of the sales to local non profits and I decided to make my first woodcut a large version of this design which is based off a cow I photographed in Craftsbury. I thought it would be fun to hide it somewhere in public and post it on my social media.
I took things one step further by creating a pay it forward message on the back. On each woodcut I stencil “This artwork is free under one condition: you promise to do one good thing for the world.” I thought maybe whoever finds the cow might give somebody the right of way the next time they are in traffic and hoped random acts of kindness could stem from the discovery. The couple that found the cow told me they were going to donate to charity and that’s when I knew I was on to something and I had to make more.
I quickly made another World Cow and stashed it in a different town. My social media started blowing up and I realized the community began to respond to this project in a way I never imagined. WCAX, Vermont’s biggest News media, contacted me and featured a story on this install. They came out with me to Waterbury and documented the whole process. This can be seen on my website, djbarryart.com.
This motivated me to continue working and I learned a lot about the jigsaw when I cut out a 5′ version of Dr. Seuss’s Cat In The Hat. I have a two year old daughter who really inspires most of my subjects chosen for this project.
Each woodcut takes me around 10 hours to make and I install hardware on them so that whoever finds them can hang them on their wall. I use high grade exterior paints and Liquitex spray paints. All of my stencils are hand cut using an X-Acto knife.
This project has now become more about engaging the community and bringing the community closer together. Families are coming out and going on the adventure to find them after I post riddles and clues online to where their location is. Lately I have been hanging around and watching people come and its mind blowing how many people are beginning to participate in this project. Four cars all showed up at the same time to find Thing 1 in Barre, VT.
I don’t know all the positive things people are doing as a result of this pay it forward campaign but deep down I imagine random acts of kindness are happening everywhere and I couldn’t be happier about that.
I plan on doing this project for the rest of my life. Currently I’m taking a few weeks off to prepare for a mural that I will be painting in NYC at the end of October and I’m even thinking about bringing a few woodcuts down with me to hide in Central Park. When I get back the force will be with me as I plan on cutting out a life size Yoda to hide next!
More info: Instagram
One happy art treasure hunter!
Rumney Elementary School Playground
A fun morning climb in the playground
Rotary Park in Barre
He had to climb a tree to get it
Stowe Bike Path
She was there a few days before with her grandson
Oakledge Park in Burlington
He’s got the whole world in his hands
Waterbury Public Library
Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier
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