A mystery woman is leaving little works of art around NYC
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By day, Amy Young is an art professor at City College. But, when she’s not lecturing on the history of graffiti, she’s engaging in a little illicit art-making of her own.
“I’m less of a vandal than a graffiti artist [is],” the Carroll Gardens resident who works under the name See Me Tell Me told The Post. “The only reason I would get into trouble is if [the authorities] consider it littering.”
Young makes miniature artworks — 6-inch paper collages of vintage photos and seashells, or 4-inch figurines covered with yarn and glitter — and tapes them up at locations such as subway stations and the Grand Central Holiday Train Show. Each piece includes a tag with an Instagram handle, @seemetellmenyc, so people can “tell her” on social media when they find her treasures.
She started the project in 2011 but recently, See Me Tell Me has become a much bigger endeavor. Young and her helpers have planted some 4,500 “gifts” all over the world; in the past year alone, she has produced more than 1,000 pieces.
“One guy picked a piece up in New York and took it to Japan,” she said. “A woman found one of my pieces in Arizona and took it home to Seattle.” Another time, a construction worker placed one of her figures on top of the Manhattan Bridge. “He left it there all night, and then went up the next day and picked it up.”
Young, who won’t give her age, grew up in the Midwest before moving to New York with her husband, also a professor, in 1993.
She came up with the idea for See Me Tell Me while working at a Manhattan gallery in 2011. “I realized that people who bought a small, inexpensive work of art were just as thrilled as those who bought a million-dollar work,” she said. “What excites people is the discovery, the adventure in finding that work . . . So, I started creating work and putting it out for free.”
See Me Tell Me is still a guerrilla project, so Young does have to be sneaky when she puts up a new work. She once got caught leaving coin-shaped trinkets at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. “The guards escorted me down to the atrium and gave me a good talking to,” she said with a laugh. “They kicked me out of the museum, and I’m ‘never to return.’ ”
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