Street Art

In junior year at Oberlin College, George and I founded the Oberlin Street Art student "organization". We would run out in the middle of the night and construct anonymous, absurd, temporary street art chaos. Sometimes, we would enlist some friends; sometimes, we would deny all responsibility; always, we would add magic to the world. Here I highlight some of our favorite projects.

Mario Boxes

The original mission. George and I made nine pixel-perfect life-sized Mario question blocks, full of power-ups, and hung them up early in the morning on the first day of finals sophomore year. This was before we founded Oberlin Street Art, so except for our girlfriends, no one knew it was us, even our closest friends, for years.

Tape Molds

We bought one league of packing tape, wrapped it around our victims, cut them out and taped up the exoskeletons, dressed them, and placed them around campus.

For senior finals week, we invaded the King building with a dozen that we'd built up over the semester (which, when stockpiled in random human-sized places around a small apartment, freak out a landlady miserably). Students were alternatively bewildered, bemused, creeped out, and delighted. Some avoided the tape people. Some hung out with them. Some tried to ignore them.

The ignoring strategy sometimes backfired. I dressed up as one (with tape hands and feet and a tape mask covering my face under a hoodie) and sat in a common area without moving for two hours. A girl started studying near me. Every time she didn't furtively look at me for five minutes, I would turn my head a little more towards here until I was looking right at her. Then two girls, arguing whether the tape people were real, started prodding me and then dared each other to sit in its lap. At that point I had to lurch up and terrorize the building amidst onlookers' shrieks and giggles.

On the way out the building, as I was lumbering myopically after George, the president of the college walked by, then did a triple-take, or so I was told.

Balloon Arch

George, Scott, and I filled hundreds of balloons with helium early one morning and made a giant balloon arch across the quad, dangling hundreds of prizes from it.

Throwies

When you tape a rare-earth magnet to a coin-cell battery and a bright LED, you have a throwie. Projectile street art! We would often hand these out at night while wearing our Guy Fawkes masks and other students would festoon the metal bits of campus. I don't have any shots of them deployed.

Murals

Grid out a picture, get some chalk, go out at 4AM, and grind your frozen fingers off. Art?

Stencils

Tape together some paperboard, trace out a design with a projector, razor out your stencil, and you're a street artist. Spray paint? That's for bad-asses! We used chalk dust so it would be non-permanent, because our art isn't good enough to endure.

Snow Spiral and Snake

During a huge blizzard, while everyone was asleep, I went out and made a giant spiral in the main quad. I also made the main sidewalk into a slithering serpent that took about twice as long to walk. Everyone walked in my snake for about two days until they plowed.

Flexcess

We had extra Flex points at the end of Oberlin, and they can only be used in the college stores. We decided to buy forty chocolate bars and lurk them around campus.

Charcoal

George would find all sorts of crazy files left on the library computers hooked up to the scanners. One time, he found eighty pages of insane genius sketches and ramblings, like a da Vinci on acid had scanned his trip journal. This other time, he found this piece of anyonmous, creative writing and decided to write it large across the sidewalks of Oberlin. Found art made resplendent.