Art has the power to transcend the everyday, and to universalize the fun and the happiness that we might be feeling, as well as help all of us to overcome together the pain and suffering that’s in our lives. Unfortunately, most public art is decorative and static: there’s almost no interaction, nothing intimate or personally meaningful about it. Which is a shame, because we think art, especially dynamic installations, are the perfect way to engage and empower people; to make art something they care about, that echoes their voices – what they’re passionate about and what they want to express. We all have something we want to shout out to the world, and there’s almost no place to do that anymore.

Social media is a faux forum for public discourse because it’s virtual, impersonal, unaccountable and often impolite. You can’t grab a hold of it. Graffiti isn’t the answer either. We have one whole wall in our kitchen painted like a chalkboard, which we call “The Wall of Knowledge,” and everyone who comes into our home is eager and welcome to write something on it. And they do: some draw incredible art, others sign their names and when they visited; others make lists of movies or write down recipes. We’d prefer actual knowledge, but some geniuses just want to draw smiley faces. Seriously, it’s the center of our family gatherings and is a great reminder of the fun we’ve had long after the holiday/party’s over. Every so often we’ll wipe it off, and then start with a clean slate, so-to-speak.

 

 

Our idea is for a public art installation that replicates this tactile and personal focus on family, community and sharing, but on a larger scale. This time, we’d like to call it “I HE(ART)...” and in this case it would be “NEWPORT.” This simple slab of “chalkboard” slate would be approximately 7’ high and 24’ long, and about 4” thick. We think Queen Anne Square would be the perfect place for it, since this beautiful public space is the spiritual center of Newport, visible and welcoming to everyone. We would have a chalk dispenser on site, and for $1 anyone can get a piece of chalk and leave their mark, literally, on the world. The wall will also act as a de facto public bulletin board: we imagine it covered right now with thanks and praise for our frontline healthcare workers during this Corona Virus crisis. Proceeds from the sale of the chalk will go to a rotating choice of local charities: Dr. Martin Luther King Center; The Salvation Army, The RI Community Food Bank, NAACP, Kiwanis/Elks Club scholarships, the McKinney Shelter, etc.

The best part about this art piece is that it’s self-renewing, and evergreen: every time it rains the wall’ll be washed clean and the people, tourists and residents alike, can bring out the collective, inspired art in themselves once again.
We hope to see I HE(ART)... installations finding their unique creative way to towns and cities all across America, and bringing a spirit of unification and transcendence wherever they are erected, respected and beloved.
 
I HE(ART)... will be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting the participatory installation arts, community outreach, and creative education. It will be headquartered at 38 Charles Street in Newport, RI.