I’ve spent some time reflecting on the artwork I have made this past year and it occurred to me there is a disconnect between things important to me and my art. Authors are told to write about what they know, what they are passionate about. And while self-portraits do investigate something I know, it still feels separate from my life values and goals. I am sure I will still make self-portraits, but why am I not promoting issues of tolerance and awareness, ideas close to my heart? Why not use my art as a vehicle to display this passion, which in turn may open the eyes of my viewers?
One group of artists who do this with aplomb is Stan’s Cafe Theatre Company. One of my favorite installations is created by this group, it is called “Of All the People in All the World.” I share it with my students every year (and I discovered it through a former student – thank you Alice 🙂 ). In this installation, Stan’s Cafe uses rice to represent statistics about people. A single grain of rice is one person. The rice is piled on clean white pieces of paper with labels describing the statistic or population represented.
Examples in the original installation include: the number of people born each day, the number who die, all of the people who have walked on the moon, and deaths in the holocaust. What makes each statistic even more powerful is its placement next to other statistics; in one image I observed the number of billionaires next to the number of people living below the poverty line.
This project has resonated with so many people that it has undergone its own evolution. In each location the work is installed, new and old statistics are represented. Even Universities are getting involved, as Wesleyan did. This is represented in the video below, where Wesleyan students shared statistics that relate to human consumption and the environment.
So many people in the community surrounding Wesleyan developed a greater concept of the environment, our waste and consumption by the creation of this exhibit. Stan’s Cafe has a link asking for more statistics to incorporate into the traveling exhibit to promote ever evolving ideas and to keep it contemporary. Check out the Stat Centre to share your own thoughts or see what other people want included in the show!
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Can you think of ways to create positive social change through your art?? Check out Stan’s Cafe’s own link discussing their project!
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