If you haven’t taken the time to watch French street artist JR‘s 2011 “TED Prize” talk, do so now. The Inside Out project is one of the most inspiring and comprehensive examples of art-as-social-change that I’ve seen in a long time. And the best part? It’s open to everyone. Go on people, get involved.
Working anonymously, pasting his giant images on buildings, trains, bridges, the often-guerrilla artist JR forces us to see each other. Traveling to distant, often dangerous places — the slums of Kenya, the favelas of Brazil — he infiltrates communities, befriending inhabitants and recruiting them as models and collaborators. He gets in his subjects’ faces with a 28mm wide-angle lens, resulting in portraits that are unguarded, funny, soulful, real, that capture the spirits of individuals who normally go unseen. The blown-up images pasted on urban surfaces – the sides of buildings, bridges, trains, buses, on rooftops — confront and engage audiences where they least expect it.