UNM students have joined the global participatory art project titled INSIDE OUT, created by the French contemporary artist who goes by the pseudonym “JR.”
UNM Associate Professor Megan Jacobs, who joined the Honors College last year, introduced her students to the project in her class “Social Transformation Through Art.”
“The course is really looking at not only historic, but contemporary artists who challenge the status quo and challenge traditional notions in their respective cultures,” Jacobs said.
INSIDE OUT began after the TED prize — which is awarded annually to an individual with a creative, bold idea to spark global change — was given to JR in early 2011.
“He encouraged people to photograph people in their own communities who they felt were overlooked or understated,” Jacobs said.
Photographs of the Inside Out project line the south wall of the SUB. The artwork was created by international artist JR. The project aims to bring awareness to various types of disabilities.
After taking photographs, individuals were allowed to submit these photographs to JR’s team, which would print the images and send them out so they could be posted in the photographer’s community.
Jacobs’ current ongoing class has the students’ photos displayed around the outside of the UNM SUB.
“It’s actually called ‘The World’s Largest Participatory Art Project’ if you go on JR’s ‘INSIDE OUT Project’ website. You can see locations literally all over the world in other countries, like everywhere,” Jacobs said. “We were really excited to be a part of this and to be able to allow UNM students to have their own voice within a larger global dial-up that is happening.”
The portraits are large, and there’s something powerful in honoring someone and putting them in public spaces for everyone to enjoy, she said.
“One thing the students are very excited about is the prospect of being able to sort of display things that matter to them in a public space in hope of encouraging dialogue among UNM students, faculty and staff on campus,” Jacobs said.
One student who has partaken in the project, Kaylie Huizenga, is a UNM sophomore who is majoring in organizational communications. She said the class counted as her fine arts credit, but that she has learned a lot more from the class.
“I never really thought about art in the way that I do now because of her class,” Huizenga said. “Just the way they talk about things and the way art has become political — art is used in so many ways other than just being beautiful.”
Huizenga’s class was split in two groups with individuals tasked with different roles for the project. Every student was a photographer in the project, she said. Together as a class, the groups collaborated to decide which photos fit the theme of their group’s project.
“Our (subject) was on-campus happiness,” Huizenga said. “We wanted to take pictures of students, faculty, staff, professors and everyone on campus that we could get a hold of and either take a portrait of them making a funny face to make someone smile, or of them doing a big fun goofy smile.”
Group members were trying to come up with something that had a message and a meaning, and the theme of campus happiness came to the group right away, she said.
The theme proves that students are all at UNM getting an education and should be excited about it, Huizenga said.
“There’s always something to still smile about,” she said. “I think as college students it’s hard to see past the now and past the difficulties that you are going through.”
The photos are large and eye-catching, and make those walking past look up, seeing their peers and professors.
Huizenga recommends the class for students who not only need a fine arts credit but are also looking for a class that is impactful and challenging.
“It has definitely challenged me, even just to think in a different light,” she said. “I don’t think like an artist, and now I feel like I recognize things differently.”
Nichole Harwood is a reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.