The Why of Wheatpasting

Today I was wheatpasting on the white 14th street strip walkway when a man got out of his car, said hello, and asked me what I was doing. "Wheatpasting," I told him.

"Why?" he asked.

You Have No Idea Who You Are
Photo by Philippa PB Hughes

It's a perfectly fair question, just not an enjoyable one to answer; similar to when someone points to a section of one of my drawings and asks, "what's that?" I can't begrudge the curiosity, even if the answer is long and requires me to explain how I draw in the first place. Unfortunately, there's no good reason to be wheatpasting, other than, I felt like it, or more specifically, I had created a drawing that seemed particularly wheatpaste appropriate and there was no reason not to do it. I didn't have a call to action, or a band I was trying to promote; it was pure art for art's sake, if you're the sort of person who classifies wheatpasting as art.

So I told him that I liked the idea of taking a single drawing and seeing it in various contexts, and that the section of the wall I'd been pasting was one that was probably was overlooked and I wanted to activate the space, and I had an image on hand that seemed to fit the area well, and that technique-wise, yeah it was better to be pasting in the morning when fewer people are around but of course it's hard to get up that early. He was friendly, but didn't seem completely satisfied—as though there had to be some other motive I wasn't revealing. But I guess that's the risk with asking why, as anyone whose interacted with a toddler knows. Eventually, you hit the end of the line, sometimes sooner rather than later.

Anyway, more details for the curious: the piece above was inspired by a quote I saw in the London Times Style magazine about various coffee drinkers (not a Dana original, sadly, though I wish it was). The drawing is composed of the sketch on the right, and you can see it around 14th street before the next torrential rain fall or someone else decides to cover it up.