Tiny Art Show: “there are tiny surprises all around us”

You don’t have to worry about getting tipsy at the opening of a Tiny Art Show, because all you’ll be served are tiny drinks and hors d’oeuvres. It makes the experience all the more special, and spotlights McKay Lenker Bayer’s eye for detail.

Based in Utah in the US, the artist and teacher came up with the idea for the Tiny Art Show, and the most striking thing about her exhibits might just be that not only is the art created on a miniature scale, it is set up at baseboard level or even on the floor. “The charm of a Tiny Art Show is that it is designed to exist in its own little world,” Bayer says. “Everything is to scale-the art labels, the title of the show, the lighting – so the entire set-up has to be close to the ground.”

Tiny Art, Big Dream

“The idea started when I was taking art classes at college,” Bayer says. “One of our assignments was to show our work in public, which made me incredibly nervous. I had been making these tiny abstract paintings, and a friend suggested I give them their own miniature exhibit, so I did. I hung everything really low to the ground with tiny label cards, a lamp and a couple of magnifying glasses nearby. It was fantastic to see how enthusiastic people would get when they noticed the tiny paintings.

“A few years later, I decided to turn it into a project. I thought it would be fun to have each show curated by a different local artist at a unique location. Thanks in part to the support I received from the local community in my hometown of Provo and on Instagram, it was a success. I still do this in addition to my job as an art teacher at a high school. My dream is to organize Tiny Art Shows full-time one day and travel around the world leaving tiny art behind, instead of only in the US.”

Imagination

“As a child, I absolutely believed in fairies, magic and all that great stuff,” Bayer says. “Whenever I put together a Tiny Art Show, some of that childlike wonder comes back, and it’s an amazing feeling. I hope that people who see a Tiny Art Show also experience that feeling of childlike imagination. It makes me so happy to see them kneeling or even lying down to see the art.

This is the moment when curiosity and amazement are more important than social conventions or getting your knees dirty. A large part of the satisfaction for me is seeing people’s reactions. Life can sometimes be tedious or boring, so it’s worth it to be able to make someone happy or move them with a teeny Tiny Art Show.”

Making art accesible

“The exhibits aren’t just fun and cute, they also have substance,” says Bayer. “They might contain tiny paintings, but they could also feature sculptures or scenes, always complete with miniature catalogs about the work on display. We want to make seeing, buying and making art more accessible as a result of the project. A tiny work of art costs between US$30-US$100. And because the shows are held in public spaces, such as a library, café or even on the street, everyone can enjoy them.

“We have a periscope for people who can’t bend or lie down; after all, we want a Tiny Art Show to be truly accessible for everyone. I hope that our art makes people happy, but also encourages them to take more time now and then, to slow down and notice the little things. Sometimes we get so caught up in our routines and forget that there are tiny surprises everywhere, all around us.”

  • Find more art from the Tiny Art Show on their Instagram page.
  • Read more about the Tiny Art Show in issue 37.

Text Chris Muyres Photography Mckay Lenker Bayer & Drea Ferreira Donaldson

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