Elsie Gilmore is the performance and social artist behind the 5000 Hugs project.
My mother was an incredible hugger, and I have always loved hugging. Because this type of physical touch is imperative to my mental and physical wellbeing, the pandemic was often a very difficult time for me.
But even before the pandemic, many people weren’t getting enough hugs and physical touch. I’ve been giving hugs for over a decade and could tell by the response that they were needed.
With a goal to have a more visible platform and greater opportunity to give more free hugs, I launched my 5000 Hugs interactive art project in August. The project blends my love of hugging strangers and my skills as a web developer.
5000 Hugs revolves around a website (www.5000hugs.com) that sells digital hugs. During the first phase of the project, people are invited to buy a digital hug on the website for $10 (or a “supercharged” version for $25). This phase runs through 2/14/2023 – my 50th birthday!
In the second phase of the project, I will turn the digital entries into real-life hugs. Each time a hug is given out, the recipient will receive a card with instructions that include the serial number for a specific digital hug. They can participate by logging their receipt of the hug, and the entire history of each hug will be viewable on the website.
5000 Hugs is a fundraiser for creation of The Hugmobile, A Mobile Hug Dispensary and Joy Clinic. The Hugmobile will be used as a vehicle (both literal and figurative) for hugging, art and love-based activism, along with being the headquarters for my hug revolution. I’ve lived in beautiful Kenwood since 2015 with my cat Libby. Along with free hugs, I’ve engaged in other guerrilla social art like yarn bombings and pop-up parties in parking spaces.
Exhibits Featuring Kenwood Enclave Artists in October 2022:
Woodfield Gallery (2323 Central) – Michael Baker, Paul Barrera, Sallie H Brown, Patrick Donovan, YaeL Kelley
Events Featuring Kenwood Enclave Artists in October 2022:
Studio 521 at 4 Gats Gallery (521 27th St S) – Letisia Cruz – October 8, 5pm
Haunted House (2599 Central Ave N) – Halloween on Central – October 30, noon
Open Mic with Bryan Klopfenstein (Bite-Size) – Creative Grape – Oct. 13, 5:30pm
Upcoming Artist Enclave Events:
AEHK Members Meeting – Grand Central Brewhouse – October 11, 6:30pm
Third Thursday Art Social – Creative Grape – October 20, 5:30 pm (public)