JR-an artist with a global canvas

JR-an artist with a global canvas

Not since the Let’s Colour Project have I been so inspired by a global project. Inside Out  is a large-scale art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work…and, in reading about this project it turned me onto the body of work by JR the artist.

image via Visual Therapy

JR is a French “photograffeur” who flyposts large black-and-white photographic images in public locations. This past October JR won the TED prize for 2011. “The TED Prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, more importantly, ‘One Wish to Change the World.’ Designed to leverage the TED community’s exceptional array of talent and resources, the Prize leads to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact. His work is known as “large-scale graffiti murals” which tackle social justice and human rights issues like freedom and identity. As part of his TED presentation he said:

Art can change the way you see the world and the people around you. And then, you can change the world.”

To date he’s completed three projects I love. The first one is Face 2 Face. In 2005 Jr and his friend Marco traveled through Israel and Palestine. What they saw were 2 peoples who almost spoke the same language, worked the same jobs, lived and died the same way, but only saw each other as enemies. It became their goal to show each of them their “brother or sister” face 2 face.

So they took pictures of taxi drivers, hairdressers, teachers and people across all walks of life, in huge formats and posted them in unavoidable places on both sides…Israel and Palestine. What they told people is that they were neither anti Israel, nor anti Palestinian, but rather were seeking a realistic peace. Here is what they created.

The second project, Women Are Heroes, looks at women in Africa, India and Brazil. They interviewed women who have faced hardships beyond comprehension from war, rape, pillage, etc. These are women who in peace time are discriminated against, and in war become targets. Their stories are so difficult you would think that they would be dead inside. But when JR and his friends took pictures they lit up with life. These women are an inspiration to us all!

 And the third project, for which he received his TED award is Inside Out. This is not just a project created by JR, but one where he inspires us, people everywhere, globally to become the artist. The intention is t0 transform messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of important people in their lives. People can participate as an individual or in a group; posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window to a wall of portraits on an abandoned building or a full stadium. Anyone can upload a portrait to the Inside Out  web site and receive a poster back to paste it up someplace for the world to see. All of these exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually on their web site. His wish for us as stated in his presentation to TED:

I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we will turn the world INSIDE OUT.”

Watch the trailer for the INSIDE OUT Project and get inspired. It’s an amazing, worldwide movement celebrating the many faces of the world … Watch it and answer the question:

If you could paste a picture of any person on the wall of your school or your house — who would it be?

Do you  think that art can change the world?

What do you stand for? I invite you to leave me a comment below, Cheers!




  1. dubai abaya 5 years ago

    Only great minds can afford a simple style.

  2. I can’t believe I had never heard of JR’s work before – thank you so much for sharing it, I love things like this and was really, genuinely moved by his efforts.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 5 years ago

      His projects are quite something, aren’t they? Which one is your favorite?

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