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Participatory Art at FIGMENT

Jun 16, 2010

by Michelle Traub handmade and vintage goods

This past weekend, I boated to an island not of daiquiris or conga lines, but instead one where little girl flamingos frolicked on stilts and fairy wishes hung from branches above. I look forward to FIGMENT every summer, and this last installment did not disappoint. Only a few years old, FIGMENT takes over Governors Island for a full weekend of free, participatory, family-friendly art. Children played in pools of rose petals, young couples “doodled to the beat,” and I hand-cranked a sparking wheel of Tesla’s design.

Amalia, proud new parent of a gnome

An excerpt of FIGMENT’s mission from their website:

“FIGMENT’s vision for art looks past the white-walled galleries and into the realm of participation. Art is not just something that you stand still and quietly look at — it is something you participate in. You touch it, smell it, climb it, write on it, talk to it, dance with it, play with it, learn from it… Interactive art creates a dynamic collaboration between the artist, the audience and their environment.

“FIGMENT’s goal is to advance social and personal transformation through creativity, in the form of free participatory arts events and exhibitions. FIGMENT is uninterrupted by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. Selling or advertising goods or services is not permitted. Neither our artists nor our planners and staff are paid — everything that you see at FIGMENT is born from a simple desire to share imagination with each other and the public.”

Two boys stop biking to explore “Process” by Travis Mong

Warning signs taped to structures proclaimed “BEWARE OF ART” and extended families played Frisbee in matching tutus. After only an hour of my wandering, it began to pour, and while some of the sculptures had to be squirreled away under tarp, everyone else continued painting, dancing, and squealing. There was such a collective surrender to get messy that I was inspired to scrawl notes all over my Moleskine, even as the raindrops bled ink across the pages.

What events in your area reinterpret art and activity? Share in the comments below!

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  • 6catsart

    6catsart said 9 years ago

    figment sounds like such wonderfully a creative idea. wish something that happened around here so i could take my niece.

  • ShellysVintage

    ShellysVintage said 9 years ago

    I love the carrying crayon roll! I have little chicklets and they would love all these items! Thanks for taking the time to share!

  • honeyblossomstudio

    honeyblossomstudio said 9 years ago

    Oh my goodness~what fun! I wish there was something similar close to where I live!

  • KatHannah

    KatHannah said 9 years ago

    What a fabulous concept - love this!

  • ShellysVintage

    ShellysVintage said 9 years ago

    yes...we definitely need a weekend of free art like this on the westside of the states! This is AWSOME!

  • Morado

    Morado said 9 years ago

    very imaginative concept!

  • babinka1981

    babinka1981 said 9 years ago

    Very interesting and creative idea! lovely!

  • TheArtOfJoy

    TheArtOfJoy said 9 years ago

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  • celentanowoodworks

    celentanowoodworks said 9 years ago

    wow...sweet. Thank you so much for including me in your selection. Keep on rockin.

  • poplovedesigns

    poplovedesigns said 9 years ago

    INTERACTIVE ART IS MY FAVORITE!!! It's always so hard for me when I go to galleries, I want to touch everything! <3 Andrea

  • undermyfeet

    undermyfeet said 9 years ago

    Thanks pretty cool, sounds like fun.

  • shannonbatescreates

    shannonbatescreates said 9 years ago

    *LOVE* Yes, ShellysVintage, we need this on the Left Coast. :)

  • tomatored

    tomatored said 9 years ago

    sounds great! thanks!

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 9 years ago

    we don't have anything close by that I have discovered yet! But I will keep my eyes peeled - it looks fantastic!

  • akcopperraven

    akcopperraven said 9 years ago

    what a neat celebration to be part of...I want FIGMENT here !! neat picks as well !!

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 9 years ago

    So cute!

  • moonangelnay

    moonangelnay said 9 years ago

    This is a brilliant idea! I love it!

  • LuRuUniques

    LuRuUniques said 9 years ago

    So much fun watching children have fun....

  • KatysKnitKnacks

    KatysKnitKnacks said 9 years ago

    very cool

  • VintageEyeFashion

    VintageEyeFashion said 9 years ago

    Looks like a blast!

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 9 years ago

    WOW! I just watched the video on their site, it was amazing. love all the interactive art projects they have. wish we had one in this area.

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar said 9 years ago

    this looks so fun-my babes would love it-!! cuteness....

  • MeghanT

    MeghanT said 9 years ago

    Those ruffle pants look awesome! I would have appreciated the unique texture and enjoyed playing around in those when I was little.

  • junkyardglitter

    junkyardglitter said 9 years ago

    Wow this looks like a blast!

  • designlab443

    designlab443 said 9 years ago

    This looks so fun!!

  • elizabethwrenvintage

    elizabethwrenvintage said 9 years ago

    Sooo very cool!

  • akcArt

    akcArt said 9 years ago

    Well doesn't this look like fun! Bright, colorful, energetic!

  • VedaArts

    VedaArts said 9 years ago

    really cool!!

  • liaison

    liaison said 9 years ago

    FUN! What a fabulous idea.

  • daniellesdesign10

    daniellesdesign10 said 9 years ago

    I love art. These items are so very cool!

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 9 years ago

    Lovely, colorful and creative ! Beautiful !

  • dgordon

    dgordon said 9 years ago

    VERY cool!!

  • jodieflowers

    jodieflowers said 9 years ago


  • EfiaFair

    EfiaFair said 9 years ago

    Wow, how cool for kids! I would have loved Figment when I was a little tyke. How great this exists.

  • moonstr

    moonstr said 9 years ago


  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 9 years ago

    i absolutely love the abstract coloring book. great for adults too! i love geometric shapes!!!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 9 years ago

    What a brilliant idea... it should go worldwide!

  • agambroult

    agambroult said 9 years ago

    oooooo I could get lost there. but now, after reading about it, I think a weekend is too short! Every city should have one.

  • decoratethediva

    decoratethediva said 9 years ago

    How fun that would be!

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 9 years ago

    What a wonderful idea! It is so important to be able to pass on the love of art to our children and future generations... we would not all be here if our elders had not done the same for us. Well done to the organisers! More of this type of thing needs to be encouraged!

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 9 years ago

    What a fantastic idea!! Very important that we hand over the love of art to our children!

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 9 years ago

    Sorry... server must be slow :-)... never shows my comments first time!

  • PoppySprouts

    PoppySprouts said 9 years ago

    how amazing! I wish we could have been there

  • ParisianDreams

    ParisianDreams said 9 years ago

    What a great idea! sounds like fun!

  • riskybeads

    riskybeads said 9 years ago

    so, so cool! I'm jealous.

  • tiffanys1

    tiffanys1 said 9 years ago

    so, so cool! I'm jealous.

  • Tarapparel

    Tarapparel said 9 years ago

    Looks like so much fun!

  • TeenahTime

    TeenahTime said 9 years ago

    just love those ruffled pants!

  • miriadmoni

    miriadmoni said 9 years ago

    Imagination is more important then knowledge (Einstein) - and I agree!!!

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 9 years ago

    I like the vision of participation, they have done it cleverly!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 9 years ago

    ooh looks like great fun I always like interactive art and great picks there at the end : )

  • booriwae

    booriwae said 9 years ago

    There's a great interactive art event called Art Spree in Honolulu, Hawaii every summer. It's put on by The Contemporary Museum of Honolulu. I'll be volunteering at this year's event!

  • ElizaWestArt

    ElizaWestArt said 9 years ago

    Turning figments of imagination into reality. I love it.

  • ElizaWestArt

    ElizaWestArt said 9 years ago

    I took my children to the Greenman festival, in Wales, last year. Lots of creative activities there for children too. They loved it.

  • JustBakin

    JustBakin said 9 years ago

    Love the gnome kid :)

  • FloweryDeer

    FloweryDeer said 9 years ago


  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 9 years ago

    Looks like so much fun....

  • breadandroses

    breadandroses said 9 years ago

    How wonderful! No commercialization, no marketing - just a place to be a kid.

  • LovetreeStudio

    LovetreeStudio said 9 years ago

    This is great. I wish I had known about it sooner. I no longer live in NYC but it would have been great for my dad to bring my step-sister to.

  • JustColor

    JustColor said 9 years ago

    This is wonderful. I love any activity that encourages artistic creation and development. I wish I could be New York right now.

  • jargonhead

    jargonhead said 9 years ago

    What a fantastic idea! Kind of like a baby burning man :)

  • thirtyonedesigns

    thirtyonedesigns said 9 years ago

    Oooo... I now "heart" that metallic crown. Adorable!

  • jadesmith

    jadesmith said 9 years ago

    It is a weird festival but you can have great adventure galloping down the drink to soothe your dried throats due to the ragging heat of the festive jive.

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