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Statewide treasure hunt offers a mix of art, curiosity and discovery this fall

"The Exchange" is statewide event of over 20 art treasure hunts designed by local artists.
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"The Exchange" is a statewide event of over 20 art treasure hunts designed by local artists.

Artists Howard el-Yasin and Suzan Shutan have been friends for decades. But when the pandemic hit – closing art galleries and forcing people to shelter in their homes – the pair began to worry about the state of the arts.

So they started brainstorming new ways for people to experience artwork.

The result? "The Exchange," a statewide art treasure hunt and the first initiative to come out ofSomethingProjects, an artist-run curatorial project established by el-Yasin and Shutan.

“With COVID there was a lot of virtual activity going on,” el-Yasin said. “This was an opportunity for artists to create a space where art doesn’t necessarily need to live within the traditional gallery sense.”

He said that conversely, the art treasure hunt is meant to get people out of stuffy museums and galleries to experience art in a different way.

“To notice things that are happening around you, enjoying this wonderful sense of being in a place, and then happening upon something that’s completely unexpected,” el-Yasin said.

People can use an interactive map to choose from over 20 treasure hunts, each one designed by a local artist. Participants are given GPS coordinates. Once they arrive at the coordinates, clues will lead them to the art installation.

“It’s the perfect family activity,” said Shutan. “You can pile in the car, and say: ‘Here’s a town, maybe we’ll have a picnic, let’s find a lake.’ And then go explore the project as well.”

To start your art adventure, go tosomethingprojects.net. The treasure hunt installations run through Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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