Monday, May 14, 2012

Inside Out Project: Bowery Pasting

For the past year, I have had the incredible opportunity to work closely with artist JR on the global public art project, The Inside Out Project.  The Inside Out Project was formed in 2011 after JR won the TED Prize based on his previous work in communities around the world. 

What started as a simple concept that art should not just be contained to gallery viewers, led to a movement of posters, students, project leaders, and a whole lot of wheat paste in cities around the world.  I had seen JR’s work in the past during a photo history class, back in Dayton, where the professor flicked through his work and continued on to the next artist. I remember going to the computer in my library after that class to look up his other projects and to see what this anonymous street artist was about. I saw large black and white portraits on trains, on cliffsides, on African rooftops. I wasn’t aware then, what my life would be like just a year later.

My first day on the job was everything I had hoped for. I was greeted by the production manager, Gin, on a cool October day to discuss my background in public art and to hear a bit more about TED. Within 10 hours, I had my dirty converse on and I was meeting a group of artists under the cover of night.  We met down in the Bowery, where we huddled on Elizabeth St. to plan our locations for posters, and the best way to avoid the police. I was paired up with the TED Deputy Director, as well as two other artists who I would soon get to know every Monday.

We slugged our buckets of wheat paste to each specific site, where one volunteer would paste, one would hold the posters, and the other would document the process. I was instantly hooked. Before that night, it had been over a year since I had created public art, and it felt wonderful to be a part of a team using photography in the community. As I stood watching our final set of posters curl into "permanent" fixtures on Broadway, I realized I was in on something exciting for the New York public art scene. Little did I know then, where we would be today.

Newest pasting today on the Lakota tribe.

[JR in action]

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