Portraits of many different faces, ranging in size, from life size to even bigger, pasted on building walls all through the world. This is the Inside Out project. Created by French artist and activist JR, the project works globslly to construct murals aimed at catalyzing social change. South’s version of the project, according to Humanities teacher Scott Glass, is still in the works and hopefully will be brought to South.
According to senior Hana Mohammed Rafee, a student leader in this project, Glass introduced JR to Humanities classes through a TED Talk about the Inside Out project, and, later, the idea to extend the project to South’s halls.
“I think our message [behind the mural] is that at Glenbrook South, we have all these students who have different identities […],” Rafee said. “[The project is] achieving [that message by] showing the individuality at our school.”
Accding to senior Camille Uzee, she agrees with Rafee about the purpose of the mural, and some of the goals that students hope to acheive through it.
“[The goal of the mural is] just to highlight diversity and […] different kinds of people,” Uzee said. “I think highlighting [those aspects] in pictures, like we are doing, is a really cool thing.”
Though the specific location and timing for the project are still unknown, Rafee explains the restrictions on the placing of this mural.
“The portraits will be going up on the wall with glue and water,” Rafee said. “They will deteriorate in time, perhaps the next year or two to three years. It would be going on the brick wall, preferably where you might be able to see it from the street.”
According to Glass, students from humanities classes, photography classes, and student council set up a photo shoot outside the auditorium. According to Glass, without the help of the students and Photography teacher Amie Elliot the 500 pictures taken within the two days that the shoot was held would not have been possible.
“What has really excited me about [this project] was that we had five hundred people who were willing to get their pictures taken,” Glass said. “It’s an incredible thing to see all these different faces and all these different people who have all their own complex histories, and, yet, […] we are this community. There’s something just really thought provoking and just beautiful about sitting there and watching this kind of slideshow.”
Although 500 photos were taken, according to Glass, only one hundred and eighty five will be put up. Rafee explained that the selection process for the photos was mainly based on how distinct and compelling the photo was.
“What we want throughout the project, [is] faces [that] show diversity and individuality and identity,” Rafee said.“Individuality entails not having the same faces in every single one.”
Glass explains that an additional task the Humanities classes now have is finding an alternate project to include all 500 faces.
“I think a lot of people would be [interested] in seeing [a movie or slideshow with the additional portraits],” Glass said. “A couple times in Humanities [classes], I’ve had [ the pictures] up on the screen. People were fascinated by it, just seeing face after face after face.”
According to Glass, JR has spoken about the controversies regarding putting up art in public areas. While Glass acknowledges the possibility of negative reactions, his hopes for the project at South are high.
“I’m expecting the reaction of, ‘This is really unique, this is interesting, this makes me proud to be a part of this community,’” Glass said.
While she is excited for the creation of the mural, according to Uzee, confusion is to be expected.
“If we get it outside of the building, because we have a hospital right next to us, there are people who are driving who don’t even know what GBS is, so they’re going to be like, ‘Why are there a bunch of pictures of students [making] funny faces on the outside of the building?’” Uzee said. “But I think it’ll look really cool, and for the people especially inside the school who know [the people pictured], they’ll be like, ‘My friend’s on the side of the building, that’s cool.’”
According to Glass, this project greatly reflects the work ethic at South because students volunteered their time knowing that they were not going to get a grade for their help. Additionally, Glass explained that he hopes that the diversity and individuality of the mural mirrors those present at South.
“I really do think [GBS] is a special place,” Glass said. “I feel so lucky to be in a place, where, as far as I can tell, people really are open, and I look forward to this installation being this very literal public face of the kind of community we all know we have inside this building, but [now] people on the outside are going to be able to see that as well.”