Attending Bad Art Night

This week I had the unique opportunity to do what most librarians only dream of: attend my own program! When I was still a librarian at Kitchener Public Library I dreamed up a program for adults called Bad Art Night. Attendees would have 45 minutes and a pile of wacky art supplies to create the worst piece of art imaginable. Everyone would set up their art, gallery style, and anonymously vote for the “Best Bad Art.” I pictured the Best-Worst artist winning win a horrible trophy, and lots of laughter. The goal was to create a highly creative and silly atmosphere with no pressure to create something “good.”

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Since planning that program I have moved to Niagara and begun a new job as Children’s and Teen Librarian. Months ago while I was planning Bad Art Night, I couldn’t help but realize that I was planning my dream evening – silly crafts, new friends, and an emphasis on the creative process. So of course, now that the nitty gritty details were out of my hands, I decided to go and enjoy the event! And I took my artist fiance along.

The librarians who took over the event did an amazing job! The craft table was filled with wacky supplies – paint, stamps, noodles, glitter, plastic dinosaurs, boxes, wooden dowels, Styrofoam shapes, toilet paper rolls, scrapbook paper, foam pieces, bingo dabbers – basically a dollar store explosion. A glue gun station was set up to the side. A coffee and tea table was also a great addition.

The ~20 adult attendees were given 45 minutes to experiment with the supplies and our own bad taste. I spent most of the crafting time catching up with my KPL coworker while haphazardly gluing dry macaroni to my art (which, I think, really worked in my favour). My piece was entitled “The Fall of Man,” and much to my surprise and delight, he really did topple over on his own, midway through the gallery walk.

Danny, who has an honours degree in Fine Art, had a bit of trouble finding his Bad Art feet. But after awhile he got into a groove. Spraying glue here, flicking paint there, drizzling the contents of a chai tea bag over top of everything. Here he is, posing with his bad masterpiece entitled “Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” or alternatively, “Nachos.”

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During a 10 minute gallery walk, all attendees considered every piece of bad art and cast 3 votes for their favourite ones. To our great embarrassment, Danny and I both tied for first place. We promised to display our horrible trophy in our new home, but I secretly awarded it to the 10 year old who came in 3rd place. (Two girls joined their parents at this event. They seemed to be having the most fun of everyone, which has inspired me to run this as a children’s event asap!)

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The Horrible Trophy at the glue gun station

All in all, this was a fantastic program that met its goal – foster a highly creative atmosphere where adults can laugh at themselves while enjoying the creative process. I’m so inspired by the way the Kitchener staff pulled this off (and thankful that they let me join in the fun!) Check out this slide show of some of the bad art we made:

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For my teen outline of this program, including downloadable ballots, click here. For more New Adult Program ideas, check out my outlines here. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me here.

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Me, with my horrible award-winning art.

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