Lonely Planet Writer

Tiny doors scattered around the city open up worlds of wonder in Atlanta

It was a big week for Tiny Doors Atl, the Atlanta-based creators of six-inch-high doors installed in various places around the American city. On Thursday, 15 September, the readers of Creative Loafing, the city’s alternative weekly newspaper named Tiny Doors ATL, the best public artwork in a city filled with vibrant street murals and other art projects. Then over the weekend, there was a ribbon cutting for Tiny Door number 10 in the city’s historic Grant Park neighbourhood.

Indy the golden doodle checks out a tiny door.
Indy the golden doodle checks out a little door. Image by @indythegoldendoodle

“I wasn’t trying to start a movement,” says Karen Anderson, Tiny Doors Atl’s co-founder and principal artist. “I was trying to join the conversation.” The Krog Street Tunnel, a continuously changing urban canvas linking two in-town neighbourhoods that’s painted and repainted by local street artists, inspired her.

One of Atlanta's tiny doors.
One of Atlanta’s doors. Image by Tiny Doors Atl

“I knew I wanted to do a door,” says Anderson, a sculptor who studied art at Rutgers University. “There is someone in Ann Arbor, Michigan who does a similar project called Fairy Doors, but that’s not Atlanta. “After talking with people who’d grown up in the city, she settled on the idea of miniature front doors.

Karen Anderson, Tiny Doors Atl’s co-founder and principal artist.
Karen Anderson, Tiny Doors Atl’s co-founder and principal artist. Image by Tiny Doors Atl

The first door was installed at the Krog tunnel. Anderson had no idea what would happen next. “I thought it might be painted over by another artist. I kept walking by but nothing happened. Then one day, I went by and someone had put a bunch of little cats around the door, staring at it, as if they were waiting for someone to open it and give them something to eat, and I thought ‘okay, that’s interesting.’ Then, on Halloween, I made some little jack o’lanterns to put by the door and when I went to the door, there were already pumpkins there. Someone else had thought it was a good idea, too. So I just put mine back in my pocket and went home.”  In November, a graphic artist began leaving miniature copies of the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper on the tiny doorstep.

A dog checks out a tiny door.
A dog checks out a door. Image by Tiny Doors Atl

Anderson is fine with fellow artists embellishing her tiny doors and has invited several to create murals, and other bits of decor for her nine doors located across the city. For the city’s annual lantern parade, she held a workshop making tiny lanterns to decorate the tiny doors just for the parade. A team of volunteer Tiny Guardians spends an average of ten hours a week on the tiny yard work of painting, gardening, mending and general maintenance.

One of Atlanta's tiny doors.
One of Atlanta’s doors. Image by Tiny Doors Atl

Tiny Doors Atl has installations indoors and outdoors, and a map on the website will guide users interested in making a Tiny Door tour of the city. In addition to the new Grant Park door, one more door will appear before the end of the year. Anderson won’t reveal exactly where but it could be in a ‘more touristy spot’ like downtown Atlanta.

One of Atlanta's tiny doors.
One of Atlanta’s doors. Image by Tiny Doors Atl

“People are always asking what’s behind the tiny doors,” she says. “It’s wonder. That’s what’s behind it. The wonder.”

One of Atlanta's tiny doors.
One of Atlanta’s doors. Image by Tiny Doors Atl