After 9-11, Susan Gardner, a Brooklyn-based artist, didn’t want to be alone in her studio so she went outside and started bedazzling her house with beads, baubles, trinkets and toys. Ten-plus years later, she's still at it. The house is now covered; a fantastic centerpiece of the neighborhood. It’s listed in guidebooks and is a stop on walking tours of the area.

Inspired by a desire to be among people, the art project serves its purpose. Gardner says that it has allowed her to meet, quite literally, all of her neighbors. They stop by when she’s working on the house to visit, encourage her to keep working on it, and share their experiences. In fact, Gardner fancies herself a bit of a mosaic shrink, listening to people’s stories as she meditatively attaches little pieces of random whatnots to the house.

Though she acknowledges that not everyone loves the house, Gardner says that the neighbors get antsy when she doesn’t work on it for awhile and they make sure that materials are not in short supply. About once a week she finds a box of stuff left for her. She figures she’ll be working on the house “forever.”

“The part I like the best,” Gardner says, “is when people tell me that it made them feel good; that it made them happy. That was my intent, to do something celebratory.”

Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, collaboration and community. She's the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking space operators. Publications include Yes!