Free Art in Florence

by Managing Editor Hannah Zimmer

Not only do Fridays bring the end of another workweek, but also free art to The Shoals.

Local artists Brandon Stoll and Olivia Sherif began sharing Free Art Friday, an international movement that originated in Britain, with the Florence community this summer.

With its beginning traced back to artist My Dog Sighs, Free Art Friday consists of artists leaving pieces of their work around town on Fridays for someone to find and take home with them. They can then post the piece of art they found on social media.

Free Art Fridays are an example of the free art movement, which consists of artists leaving their work in public places free of charge.

Sherif said Stoll wanted to share the movement with the Florence community after Stoll saw its impact in other areas.

Both Sherif and Stoll are from the Shoals area, but Stoll lived in Atlanta for many years where he saw the art movement flourish.

“In Atlanta, upward of a hundred people participate every week,” Sherif said. “After Brandon shared what Free Art Friday was and that he wanted to start something like that in Florence, we decided to start an Instagram and spread the word.”

Sherif and Stoll repost many pictures of found art on their Instagram account, @freeartflorence. Sherif said people who find the pieces can use the hashtag, #fafflo, to possibly have their finds featured on the page.

 “(Using Instagram) gets more people involved because that’s what people are on,” said freshman Annie Swantek.

Sherif said the community responded well to the art left throughout the city this summer.

“We’ve had great feedback, (and) all types of art have been represented,” Sherif said. “Anything from drawings to paintings, photography, sculptures, sewn items, poetry and music- all mediums are welcome to share.”

Some of the most popular places for art drops are downtown Florence, Seven Points, UNA campus and public parks, Sherif said.

“We love to spend our Fridays walking around downtown looking for and dropping art,” Sherif said.

Local artist Andrea Chandler participated in the movement this summer. She said she had fun leaving art in the community for others to find.

“It’s a great way for local artists to get their work seen by the public while also creating a fun activity for the community to join in,” Chandler said.

Ellen Scott, UNA alumna, used the Free Art Friday hashtag when she posted a photo of a painting Chandler left for someone to find. Through Instagram, Scott and Chandler connected. Chandler got to see who found her painting and communicate with her over social media.

Anyone is welcome to participate in Free Art Fridays in Florence. Sherif said she wants to open the community to the many talented artists in the area.

“This is meant to be all-inclusive and a way of sharing positive, creative energy and public art,” Sherif said.

Students can find clues to art locations on Instagram every Friday, so stay posted on social media to find the hidden treasures.

“Go out, have fun and inspire others,” Sherif said.