BLOG: Campus project to turn Biola “Inside Out” with art

Photography students at Biola launched the “Inside Out” project on campus and will be installing portraits from the Biola community across campus this week.

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Mike Villa

Biola photography students are behind the “Inside Out” project and will be installing Biola students portraits around campus. | Kelsey Heng/THE CHIMES

“Inside Out” is “a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work,” its website explains. The global project is being spearheaded by Parisian street artist JR, winner of the 2011 TED prize.

The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) prize is given every year to an “exceptional individual,” and consists of $100,000 and “one wish to change the world,” according to its website.

Artist makes his wish to change the world

JR’s wish is “for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.” The Ted Prize uses various resources to fund each wish to change the world, coordinating collaboration so that the wish may be fulfilled.

JR has done other large-scale photo projects in black and white, similar to the Inside Out project, including the “Face2Face” project displayed in Palestine and Israel and “Portrait of Generation,” displayed in France, both of which can be viewed online.

Biola’s Contemporary Photo Practices class, taught by assistant professor of photography Kurt Simonson, is participating in the Inside Out project through posting black and white photos on their blog, and pasting large-scale prints of the photos around campus.

Biblical diversity displayed through art

Pete Menjares, associate provost of diversity leadership, introduced the meaning behind Biola’s Inside Out project in chapel Monday morning as part of the Thorny Bible Passages series. He opened chapel with a discussion of Galatians 3:28, a verse that addresses not only diversity but also unity in Christ.

The verse, which says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” is often misquoted, misapplied and misunderstood, Menjares said.

He said the good news of the passage is that all are accepted by God no matter who they are or where they are in life, but he also said the verse has been used to “minimize the beauty and wonder and distinctiveness of who God created us to be.”

JR’s wish comes to Biola

In response, the Inside Out project is meant to show the community how art can promote unity rather than division. One of the goals of Inside Out is to continue the campus-wide discussion of art and diversity in light of recent discussions over the Jesus Mural, said Lauren Wilk, a studio arts major who helped introduce the project during chapel.

“In thinking more deeply about the meaning behind the project, it became clear that God was directing things more than we even realized,” Wilk said during chapel.

Portraits to decorate campus

The project began with photos of the students involved being posted on the windows of the Art department, and students will begin installing more photos across campus throughout this week. One installation has already begun near the SUB and another on the steps leading from Common Grounds to the Flour Fountain.

The project received such a positive response that students decided to expand and invite anyone on campus to have their photo taken, Wilk said. People ranging from students to facility services employees to President Barry Corey participated. The photos are posted on the project’s blog.

Simonson said the locations of upcoming photo installations is a surprise, and said for students to keep their eyes open and to be particularly mindful of where their feet are walking over this next week.

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