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Artists Use Stimulus Check to Help Other Artists Through Yard Art Project

By Mellany Armstrong

A Moore professor and his artist wife are encouraging others to make DIY art galleries as a way to support other artists during the coronavirus pandemic.

Socially Engaged Art program director Daniel Tucker and Emily Bunker have created YIMFY 2020 by using their federal stimulus money to pay artists to create posters that are now on display in their West Philadelphia neighborhood. The art on display is also for sale to benefit the individual artists, or to be donated to a nonprofit.

"When we heard that we’d be getting economic stimulus checks, we thought that we’d figure out ways to redistribute those funds since we have relative stability," said Bunker.

The name YIMFY (Yes in My Front Yard) comes from the concept of NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase "not in my back yard"), which is often used to characterize opposition within planning debates that leads to the movement of a controversial proposal from one well-organized community to be relocated to a different, often disinvested neighborhood or city. 

While their project is now closed to more artists, Tucker and Bunker hope to inspire others to come up with their own ways in which to support local artists.

Why are you doing this? 
YIMFY 2020 is an exhibit that actually fits the physical-distancing restrictions, which while urgently necessary are also having an impact on the ways in which artists/writers communicate. We wanted to move past the idea that the only way to make art at this time was on social media. 

How did you get the idea?
We had been following the news about the impact of physical-distancing program cancelations on artists and writers who rely on event-based programs and exhibitions as part of their primary and supplemental income. We thought that a small gesture towards giving people support at this time would be to use our stimulus checks to commission artists to share new work. 

How does it work?
Eight artists/writers were invited to contribute to a yard art exhibition using the familiar form of the political campaign yard sign. The signs will be on view in our yard until June 2nd, the new day of the Pennsylvania primary election. 

As long as you come alone or in a small group, you are invited to come see the signs for yourself at 433 N 41st st. Take a picture and post it, tagging @yimfy2020 and #yimfy2020, and note that this gallery has no opening or closing hours because as we are fond of saying #yardartneversleeps!

Can artists give you any type of art for the project, or are you looking for a certain type to display in a 
yard?

We gave very strict parameters to the artists/writers that it had to be a 24” x 18” image that we would print through a commercial sign printer. Our only ask was that we wanted to hear what they had to say about the political-environmental-economic-health crisis, but did not prescribe the content beyond that prompt. 

How did you select the artists that are featured?
They were people whose work we admire, and who also live nearby. While we recognize the fact that there are grants and funds out there for artists, the most tangible way we could think of showing our support was to do so locally, in the city we live in.

Read more about the YIMFY 2020 project here and here.

You can have a YIMFY 2020 exhibition in your yard! Learn more here.

Check out some of the YIMFY 2020 artists' websites below.

Leigh Gallagher

Malav Kanuga

Bec Young

Jensen Leonard

Heidi Ratanavanich

Li Sumpter

Kirwyn Sutherland

Lucia Thomé

Shira Walinsky

Published on April 28th, 2020