Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Rocket scientist, baker, cop.
All of the students from Santa Fe’s Salazar Elementary School whose portraits were captured in the stark, black-and-white posters laid out on the floor of the New Mexico state Capitol Friday had a badge proclaiming their career aspirations.
Given the state’s history of military service, it wasn’t surprising to see several tags with “Army” or “vet.” Likewise, Disney-fueled dreams of becoming a princess were in evidence. There was even a future internet influencer who identified himself as a “YouTuber.”
While most of the professional goals were modest, the scope of the project transcends personal ambitions. The giant portraits unveiled at the Roundhouse are part of Inside Out, a large-scale participatory art project that shares images of people around the world on the internet, in addition to displaying posters in local communities.
Inside Out is the creation of JR, an artist who was the recipient of the 2011 TED Prize and who made headlines in September 2017 with his huge photo of a child peering over the border wall dividing Mexico and the U.S. “Faces Places,” a 2017 Oscar-nominated documentary, followed him around France as he installed his giant pictures on walls, trains, towers and other surfaces.
Friday, as Salazar students filled the second and third floors of the Roundhouse overlooking the Rotunda, there was a sense that these elementary schoolkids were being given the freedom to dream big, regardless of any limitations they may face in their everyday lives.
“You are part of a worldwide movement, part of something much bigger than the installation,” Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia told students and parents from the bilingual school as a translator spread her message in Spanish.
Officially titled “You Are My Future,” the one-day-only public exhibit at the Roundhouse and the digital images that will remain on the Inside Out website grew out of a mentoring program that pairs high schoolers from the public charter school The Masters Program with students at Salazar.
The driving forces behind the art installation were Masters teacher Scott Hauenstein and his former student Nick Flock, who photographed the arresting images. But many others helped bring the art installation to the Roundhouse and to the Inside Out website, including Santa Feans Sandy Zane at form & concept gallery and Ron Whitmore at Artisan art supplies.
The collaboration between the Masters Program, which is housed at Santa Fe Community College, and Salazar Elementary was a yearlong journey that required building trust with the subjects of the photographs and their families, who were required to sign photo releases so the images could be viewed around the world.
The final hurdle was finding a place to display the 30-by-50-inch posters, an integral part of the Inside Out process, though the Santa Fe project was produced independently of JR himself.
“We were fortunate that the Roundhouse stepped up to the plate,” Hauenstein said.
“But I don’t want to focus on the obstacles,” he said. “Today is a day to celebrate the kids and their futures.”