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Tape Art


I took my kids to see Tape Art Artaquarium at the recently opened 5 Traverse Gallery in Fox Point. This unusual exhibit is the work of Michael Townsend, James Mercer, and Jay Zehngebot from the Trummerkind art collective (some may know them as “the mall artists”). For four weeks, they are residing in this funky little gallery off Wickenden Street and creating Tape Art. Using low-adhesive drawing tape, they create temporary, large-scale murals designed to interact with both the viewer and the environment. One of the artists showed my kids how to draw with tape–which is both easy to shape and easy to remove if you change your mind. We were at the gallery for about an hour before the opening so everyone was a bit busy setting up for the event—including bringing in buckets of stones to create the aquarium floor—but they invited us to come back another day when there would be more time to watch them work on the mural and for the kids to draw with tape.


My kids and I were so inspired to make our own art that we stopped at Utrecht around the corner on Wickenden Street and bought a couple rolls of blue (Scotch Brand) removable painters Tape (3/4-inch x 60 yards on sale for $2.99 a role, regularly $3.99) and headed home to decorate our walls. Although my boy’s bedroom is a converted attic with sloping walls in one corner, there’s an alcove under the eaves (we call it “the clubhouse” and it is where the boys currently sleep). The walls were plain and unadorned—a blank canvas waiting to be transformed.

My son Dylan decided to expand the water theme of his bedroom by adding sea creatures to the walls. He found ripping the tape was a bit tricky but after a bit of trial and error soon discovered he could cut pieces of tape to the size he wanted and position them how he wanted. The amazing thing about this tape is that the wall transformation is pretty immediate. The walls came to life rather quickly when working with this medium and changed just as easily—without harming the walls.

This is a fun project for kids of (ages 4 and up) who are able to pull tape off a roll. Children often find it easier and very gratifying to work on a large scale. Turn cleanup into a game by rolling all the extra tape scraps into a ball. And when you tire of the mural, you can easily pull off the tape (and make another tape ball) and design something new.

The artists at 5 Traverse Gallery said they change the art on the walls all the time and chances are if we come back in a couple of days, the murals will be completely different. In the meantime, view the Artaquarium in real time. What a great way to get kids involved in art and thinking outside the box or through the fish tank. As a parent I always welcome fresh ideas to share with my kids.

Tape Art Artaquarium
January 14 – February 15, 2008
5 Traverse – 5 Traverse Street, Providence, RI
(401) 278-4968
Hours: Wed-Sat 11-6, Sun 12-5

To purchase tape and a snack within walking distance:
Utrecht Art Supply Store
200 Wickenden Street, Providence, RI. 401-331-3780

Coffee Exchange
207 Wickenden Street, Providence, RI. 401-273-1198

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  • I love blue tape for closing up packages of pretzels or cheese or for labelling things. But now I love it even more. It’s a great medium! I had no idea! It looks like you had a lot of fun. You guys are obviously talented, and very inspiring.