Art must be a non-negotiable part of economic development. Schools, workplaces, communities and the built environment can all have art or creative opportunities embedded in them.
It all started back in elementary school when my 4th grade teacher asked us to build a diorama (a miniature model representing a scene or place) about a book of our choosing. I chose a scene from my favorite story, "Rumpelstiltskin" and used a Nike shoe box, some art supplies and a little imagination to build it.
The experience building a tiny world inside a shoebox struck a chord, so much so that in 2020, I made a series of portraits inspired by the diorama in my small box shaped apartment. The project has since inspired a new series that focuses on social justice, as well as a new social art initiative known as The Box Portraits.
The Box Portraits is a framework for action. It's meant for "Changemakers"—Artists, companies, institutions and governments that want to invest in unleashing the human potential of their citizens through art.
The rules of the Box:
Art has no rules, so why the rules? What I learned about myself playing sports as a kid is that I enjoy camaraderie and a healthy dose of competition (more on that later). And like sports, our art only gets better with practice. So, if you're up for the challenge, here are 3 rules I challenge you to follow when making these portraits.
1. Projects must be completed as a team between two or more artists. This is a collaborative exercise so the bigger the team the better.
2. Teams that develop a "portrait" must visually use the box-shaped-diorama format as part of the final design. Everything else is fair game.
3. Projects need to be shared publicly, and in a unique way that encourages engagement and connection. Go beyond social media.
Scroll over image to see behind the scenes
Follow your Art
This is the beginning of our story and we hope artists will get inspired to continue it by following their art in the Box Portrait process. I chose photography and digital illustration, but The Box Portraits is not a one-way-to-do-it proposition. Use your art to reimagine the box.
Explore the canvas
Those of you willing to take on this creative challenge should do so without caution. Don't be afraid to explore everything, the space, different art-forms, subject matter, even explore the rules. Find ways to try things you've never tried before. Find something new.
In support of social justice and to creatively add a compelling voice to the fight against institutionalized and systemic racism, we have created a new series to provide an illuminating look into the lives of black community leaders, artists and people living in Austin, TX.
The Box Portraits Art Initiative.
We want to transform cities through art by working with artistically active communities, developing projects that embrace and celebrate an artistic lifestyle, and design positive experiences for all.
If you are interested to participate as an artist in future projects, please fill out the registration form below.