"The World We Want" Launches at the Dumbo Art Festival
I am ECSTATIC to announce that this September 26, at New York’s largest art event — The Dumbo Art Festival — I will be launching an interactive installation called “The World We Want.” It’s a public art project that invites you to reflect on your vision for yourself and the world. (RSVP here!)
(Mock up of what’s about to go down, thanks to Rachel.)
Joseph Campbell said, “Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.” This project is about ascribing meaning to your life, your community, and the world.
Through an interactive chalkboard in a public space, the wall exists to inspire self-reflection and nourish our well-being by connecting us both inwardly to our best selves and outwardly to the community we live within.
With two prompts, “I want to live in a world where” and “To create this world, I will”, anyone can come by and share their aspirations in public.
(Design and language testing in Dumbo.)
The result is a cataloged conversation of our visions and our ownership in making those aspirations come to life. It serves as an honest reflection of the possibility and potential that exists within our community.
Want to play?
If you’re in New York… I would LOVE for you to come by, participate, and say “Hi!” I’ll be there all day every day throughout the festival. It runs from 6pm to 9pm on Friday, September 26th, from noon to 9pm on Saturday, September 27th, and from noon to 6pm on September 28th.
If you don’t live in New York… Stay tuned as we figure out ways for people around the world to participate. (And do let me know if you have any ideas!)
If you want to build a wall in your community… Hell yes! Email me at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you in early October.
If you’re curious how it all went down…
It was the bright and sunny afternoon of August 12. In one hand I held a notebook with “How will you step up today?” written on the cover. In the other, a coconut green ice tea. My hands shook as I looked around the coffee shop, wondering who my first target would be.
Ten minutes and a few “I’m nervous!” text messages to Farhad and friends later, I took a deep breath and leaned over to the guy sitting next to me.
“Hi, I’m Amber,” I said with a smile. “I’m working on an art project, and I’m wondering if I can ask you a few questions?”
“Sure!” he said.
“Whew! Big relief,” I said. “You’re the first person I’ve asked outside of my fiancé.”
“Aweee, really?!” he said.
I handed over a series of post-it notes, asking him to answer the following prompts: Love is… / Freedom is… / I’m grateful for… / I’m afraid of… / I want to live in a world where…
(The scene of the experiment, with the initial prompts and tools.)
Five minutes and an array of beautiful responses later, the guy across the table showed interest and curiosity. “You want to play?” I asked him. “You bet!” he said.
It was in that moment that the project was born.
Two weeks and several subways, street corners, coffee shops and events later, I collected hundreds of responses from strangers and friends ranging in age, gender, ethnicity and social status. From tears and hugs to life stories and aha! moments, the reactions and feedback moved me to take the idea seriously.
Along the way, I narrowed in on the theme of “The World We Want,” choosing to pull out people’s vision for themselves and the world.
(Visions and aspirations on display in my studio.)
I talked with little ones like six-year old Nora who shared that she wants a world without gravity and her role in creating that world is to drink aloe. I met fathers like 66 year-old Benjamin who shed a tear because he’s been contemplating that question and doesn’t have an answer yet. He wants one as part of being a role model for his grandkids.
I heard about visions where we value learning, love is the only currency, good beer is the standard, acceptance is the first response, authenticity is valued, there are no borders and the wild still lives. With every interaction, it felt like my heart grew larger. The only thing I could think about was bringing this experience, and this feeling, to more people.
Inspired by the work of JR, Candy Chang and other street artists, I envisioned an interactive wall experience, and put together a plan of attack. Now all I needed was a wall with high foot-traffic; a canvas to bring this vision to life.
(A love note to the universe, as posted on my iMac.)
As I eagerly explored lower Manhattan, Dumbo and Williamsburg, I learned that the largest art festival in New York was happening in my neighborhood at the end of September. (What?!) I leaped to the computer to learn more about who’s running the festival and how to get involved.
“Please note that the 2014 Open Call is NOW CLOSED,” read the site. “To receive an alert when the 2015 Open Call becomes available, please visit our Subscribe page.”
I paced back and forth in my studio, contemplating the feasibility of making this happen in a few weeks, and how I might slide my way in.
On a whim, I sent a project pitch to the woman running the festival, not expecting anything to come out of it. I almost didn’t send that email. I was so close to not sending that email. I AM SO GLAD I SENT THAT EMAIL.
Two hours later, I received a favorable response and a list of questions. She mentioned that she MIGHT be able to find me a location, and would get back to me once I gave her more information. In a span of seconds, my emotions ranged from screaming to jumping up and down to crying tears of joy.
After 10 days of obsessive email checking and a few sleepless nights, we locked in an 8’ x 54’ wall on Plymouth St. between Washington and Adams St.
Next week, on Friday, September 26 at 6pm ET, we’re going LIVE.
My. heart. is. BURSTING. If you live in or are visiting New York, it would be my pleasure to share this experience with you.
Thank you to Farhad, Momma, Sara, Rachel, Elle, Sarah, Masha, Tatiana, Payal, Laura, Bryony, Andrew, Reggie and the friends and strangers who participated in the research, provided feedback and helped me get to this point. I LOVE YOU.