‘Six feet apart’ is a simple phrase now known by all — but what exactly are the implications of those three short words that dramatically transformed how people navigate life?

That is the question local artist Marni Gittleman is engaging with in her “What’s 6 Feet?” community wide art program. Through a series of thought-provoking question prompts stenciled throughout the City, Gittleman is striving to create heartfelt conversation exploring how the last year of distance has impacted residents.

Once the responses have been collected they will be published both online and on signs and stickers across the City to showcase how the community has grappled with, suffered from, learned from, and embraced everything that comes with living apart.

The project is funded through the City’s Art of Recovery Program, a grant program inspired by the WPA-era’s Federal Art Project which employs artists to create initiatives that will strengthen and connect Santa Monica. To accomplish her goal Gittleman has partnered with local signage and graphics provider Image360 South Bay, which produced the stencils used to distribute prompts throughout the City under the direction of owner Adam Wodka.

“The responses so far have really blown me away,” said Gittleman. “They range from humorous, to really deep reflective sharing, to things anyone can relate to. It’s an invitation to be heard, and seen, and honored in what we are all going through.”

The project is still soliciting submissions and all residents are invited to respond to one of the many prompts stenciled around town and featured on the @whats6feet Instagram account. Prompts include ‘I’m thankful for…’ ‘love is…’ ‘I can’t wait to…’ ‘who or what lifts you up?’ and more.

Gittleman said all responses should be submitted via Instagram and those received by March 21 could be featured on stickers and signs that will be displayed in businesses and iconic locations throughout the City courtesy of Image 360. Residents are encouraged to continue submitting past the deadline as the online account will keep sharing reflections.

“It’s been refreshing to have a positive conversation. It’s nice that we can laugh and find the positives in our situation. To me that’s the beauty of this project,” said Adam Wodka, owner of Image 360. “I think that for the most part we are all conditioned to see the bad side of things and certainly people getting sick and passing is not a good thing, but this project helps us get another perspective on life and find things that aren’t all bad about this time.”

The submissions so far have spanned a breadth of subjects, moods, and artistic mediums, showcasing the diverse ways residents have experienced separation and choose to express themselves.

For example, dancers Abdiel Jacobsen and Robine Mock choreographed a routine where they maintained a taut six foot long string between them the entire time, reflecting the elimination of touch and partner work in their art form.

Another submission featured a photo of a couple holding hands at the pier on Valentine’s Day, reflecting gratitude for their continued ‘togetherness’. One community member spent many meditative moments in quarantine enjoying popsicles on her patio and shared a photo of a giant heart sculpture made from all her collected popsicle sticks.

Though many responses have focused on positivity and gratitude, people have also taken the project as an opportunity to reflect on loss.

“People have written in with really heartfelt remembrance. We are inviting people to remember everyone you love and that while some people have passed and we might be separated here in the earthly plane, they live on through art and spirit,” said Gittleman.

All community members are encouraged to participate in the project by visiting the @whats6feet Instagram page and exploring the stencils, stickers, and decals distributed throughout the City.

Clara@smdp.com