In 2009, I read in my local paper in Norway, that the Moss library's funding was cut for new children’s books. Having lots of connections to other artists all over the world via Twitter, it gave me an idea. What if they made and sent a handpainted postcard that was then exhibited and sold to raise funds for my library?
The postcard was in my mind symbolic of a tweet, and simple and affordable to send. In return, the entries would be exhibited with their name, Twitter handle, city and country. Right from the start, I pictured it as global. How exciting to see work on the wall from Japan, Asia, India, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. I made a blog post about the idea, and it spread like wildfire. For the artists, the only requirement was that their entry was postcard size, original, and signed. There was no theme, required medium, entry fee or strings attached. 100% of the money raised went to the charity. The response was phenomenal! Soon, 260 fantastic cards from 23 countries arrived in my mailbox. A wall was built and sponsored by a local gallery. Things fell into place and the exhibit was a success. From the funds raised, the library was able to purchase 221 new children’s books.
By 2011, I was so tired from the gigantic task that I never considered doing it again. But in 2012, I read in our local paper that the women’s shelter in my city was in danger of closing down due to a lack of funds. I decided to organize a Twitter Art Exhibit for them. Again cards arrived in my mailbox from all over the world, this time from 34 countries. The mailman once knocked on my door and asked what was going on. That year, we not only helped to save the shelter, but all the women residents received haircuts and manicures, and the children a bus trip to the zoo in Kristiansand.
At this exhibit, it became clear how the event impacted everyone involved: It connected buyers with artists, artists to other artists, the charity to the community, and TAE had great PR influence to raise awareness to causes in need. News in print, TV, and radio started to cover the event. The inclusiveness also struck a chord. Anyone could participate, amateur and professional alike.
After the second exhibit ended, I was contacted by a professional art curator in Los Angeles, Nat George, who said that this was such a good idea that she wanted to partner up and do it for a charity in her city. Alas TAE went global. We formed a board with a clear goal to continue with the event annually. Since then, TAE has grown tremendously, organized for worthy causes in Orlando, New York City, Stratford Upon Avon (UK). This year it was held in Canberra, Australia. In 2019, TAE will be in Edinburgh, Scotland.
TAE is growing. This year, over 1200 artists from 67 countries registered. Online sales and donations now also make it possible to raise more significant amounts. Please see the link below on how to support or participate.
In a world full of difficulty and hardship, TAE brings out the good in social media and brings people together. I always site two quotes by Van Gogh at every opening, which I think summarize TAE perfectly,
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” And, “Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”