Being back in the US means more than sharing crazy travel stories with friends over cigars and coffee. This break has been set aside for reflection on the progress of this project. What techniques of connecting with people were most effective? What questions ended up being irrelevant? How have the goals and messages changed?
When contemplating these questions and trying to summarize the “progress” made, I must admit: I don’t know how this project is going to end.
Visiting 13 places this year is functioning as the fact-finding and research for a much broader concept. The vision is to create and implement a holistic system – digital and physical – that will connect artists and social activist groups all over the world and give them the resources to make their community-empowering projects more impactful and sustainable.
But each day brings new curiosity-piquing material. Each new friendship is a fountain of sparklingly astute observations. Each new community provides insight into the elements that are vital for encouraging artists to envision and implement systemic social changes. That’s why I can’t foresee how the end result will look. (A book? A website? A residency program? A paper airplane kit?) And why I have to keep going.
I am okay with not knowing exactly how this project will culminate and coalesce because I completely certain of the motives that launched it.
Artists are doing remarkable and inspiring things all over the world, and the lessons they have learned along the way can help all of us in our own endeavors.
Take one extraordinary example of an artist who is creating a sustainable system to change the world — French street artist JR. JR has been using his creative spirit to inspire people to poster their communities with photo portraits, thereby showing the world its true face. When discussing the results of his Inside Out project, JR points out that art changes the world by changing people. In his TED Prize talk in 2011, he made a bold wish:
I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world inside out.
Together, we certainly can turn the world inside out, and you are probably already standing up for what you care about. So tell us below, how are you using your art to change people’s lives and thereby changing the world? How can we help you?