ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Flamework glass artist Shawn Bungo is hiding artwork around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti for community members to find.
Through finders keepers-styled scavenger hunts, Bungo has been secretively hiding small pieces of his art around the two cities on Saturdays for passersby to find and keep.
Each week the Ypsilanti artist grabs around 12 pieces of art and takes his dog for a walk. Some weeks the pieces are themed and some weeks they are things he has on hand. With art shows canceled, Bungo said he has plenty of pieces to hide.
After the are is hidden away, Bungo leaves a breadcrumb trail of hints online through his Facebook page as to where each piece is located. Pieces might be on electrical boxes, ledges and statues, or in pipes, trees and vegetation.
Having worked with glass for 16 years, Bungo’s pieces range in theme, from aquatic-inspired to bird-based. His glasswork is made with a torch so each piece is small and intricate, ranging in size from an inch to six inches.
Bungo started hiding his artwork in public places eight years ago when he was living in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“The first year I would go around and hide my pieces that didn’t come out that best, and stuff like that,” said Bungo. “I’d hide them and nobody knew who was doing it for a while. And then the neighborhood found out who was doing it, and it just became a thing.”
He was looking for a way to get to know the community and people living in his area. Bungo said the hidden artwork was a fun and simple way of getting to know his community and that neighbors became collecting his hidden pieces.
When he and his wife moved to Ypsilanti last year, the idea followed.
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“It turns out to be a great way to meet the community and connect with the community,” said Bungo. “[Its] other neighbors meeting other neighbors through finding the glass.”
As he has explored the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area, he has spontaneously left small pieces of artwork around. After posting about the pieces in an Ann Arbor Facebook group, more and more people have become interested in participating. Bungo started the Saturday scavenger hunts as a creative way to connect to the community and to get to know people.
So far, the reception has been really positive. He often gets messages asking for more clues or selfies of community members with his artwork.
“I love it when people take a picture of themselves after they find the glass, and that’s what’s really fun about seeing the enthusiasm. A lot of people the last few Saturdays have been photographing themselves with the glass,” said Bungo.
“I think people are looking for something fun to do.”
For now, he plans to keep leaving artwork around for community members to find whether its spontaneously when he is out-and-about or on Saturdays.
Find more of Bungo’s work here.