I have seen that participatory public art can be a powerful platform for voice. When people come together to craft a shared vision, they start to build empathy where it may have seemed impossible, and can start to dissect complex social issues that face our world and affect us all. Creating art together helps establish bonds that transcend the boundaries that can keep us separate and siloed. Art is magic.
I worked with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre on visioning and creating an interactive experience constructed for deployment in United Nations policy forums. The aim of the video experience was to spark conversation and empathy, and infuse technical dialogues with rich, personal context. The experience design had participants entering a space set up to mimic a Haitian Cafe, surrounded on three sides by screens that presented 11 Haitian individuals interweaving their stories of climate and weather changes, struggles and challenges, and a shared vision of a country rising up to create new opportunities and change. The Climate Cafe experience engaged all the senses in order to most deeply connect viewers with the on-screen speakers, and with each other. We first unveiled the Climate Cafe at the United Nations Climate Science and Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, Switzerland, October 2018, and followed with screenings at the United Nations Conference of the Parties Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 24) in Katowice, Poland, December 2018. You can find the single screen version of the video here. We plan to capture a comprehensive video when the Climate Cafe is next staged in order to have a virtual version of the full experience.
I worked with the enchanting and world-changing people of Beit al-Atlas, a community hub for social change, in Beirut, Lebanon. I was inspired by the Beit al-Atlas mission of dissolving the dangerous barriers that keep us divided to come up with the swirling, Arabic-script-inspired community celebration visual. In addition to depicting some of Beit al-Atlas’s wide range of change-making approaches (journalism, music, art, community organizing, but so many more too), the mural features the many-meaning-full pomegranates, and the house’s dear queen, Lulu - Lufthansa - the dog. Every community member added their vision of home to the mural’s hearts, and the full day of painting ended in a dance party. A wonderful day, to top most wonderful days…
A commission for the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) and their education program. A day spent in the best way possible: painting a DC Water storm drain with highly fun and energetic 5th graders from Kimball Elementary School. The aim of the AWS artist collaborator project is education and awareness raising about storm drains, water pollution, and actions that neighborhoods can take to improve environmental wellbeing.
Mural painted in Anacostia, Washington, DC, in February 2018, for the Frederick Douglass bicentennial.
Pictured is Frederick Douglass on the lawn of his Cedar Hill house, the Anacostia river, DC Capitol and Washington monument in the background. FD is with his friends and contemporaries, including abolitionist John Brown, activist and first black graduate of Harvard Richard Greener, journalist, Civil Rights leader and suffragette Ida Wells, first African American senator Blanche Bruce, abolitionist Wendell Phillips, and author and poet Grace Greenwood, PLUS a number of modern day Anacostia neighborhood kids.
Photos here include a few of the amazing creative contributors, images from publications, mural details, and opening ceremony shots with Nettie Washington Douglass, Frederick Douglass's great great granddaughter, and Ken Morris, his great great great grandson. Ken and Nettie visited as part of the bicentennial celebrations and handed out copies of a new edition of Frederick Douglass's first book,"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" as part of their Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI).
Final additions to the mural were done in collaboration with community members and students.
A collective art piece created for International Women's Day in Washington DC. 700+ participants helped add color, words, names, passion and thoughts to this piece of dancing and powerful women rapidly rising up. These colorful goddesses of that International Women's Day community can't be tamed and the movement towards gender equality can't be stopped. Words embedded by audience members include: "Black Lives Matter", "Nevertheless, she persisted", "Trans Lives Matter", "Women are Inferior to None", "The Future is Female", "Keep Your Head Up", "Empowered Women Empower Women", "Women Are Strong as Hell", "El Pueblo Unido, Jamás Será Vencido", and "Le Pouvoir Des Femmes".