DEAR MADAM OR MISTER PRESIDENT: FOR 12 YEARS, ARTIST SHERYL ORING HAS TYPED POSTCARDS TO THE NEXT PRESIDENT FOR THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS;

ON EVE OF HISTORIC ELECTION, ORING CAPTURES AMERICA’S HOPES IN POWERFUL NEW BOOK OF PHOTOS + ESSAYS, ACTIVATING DEMOCRACY

Book details:

Title: Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project
Author: Edited by Sheryl Oring
Publication date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Intellect Books - The University of Chicago Press
Pages: 224 pages, softcover
Pricing: $38.50
Retail: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Upcoming Performances:

Sept. 29, Appalachian State, Boone, NC (noon to 2 pm)
Oct. 6, Monmouth University, NJ
Oct. 11, Madison Square Park, NY (noon to 2 pm)
Oct. 14 and 15, Creative Time Summit, Washington, DC (noon to 2 pm)
Oct. 27, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (book launch event, 6:30-8:30 pm)
Nov. 1, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC (7-8:30 pm)

Press Release:

NEW YORK (September 26, 2016) - For the past 12 years artist Sheryl Oring has served as America’s personal secretary, crisscrossing the country with a vintage typewriter and inviting thousands of Americans to sit at her pop-up desk and dictate a message to the next President of the United States.

Oring uses carbon paper to make two copies: one to send to the White House and one to keep for her ever-growing collection of America’s hopes and dreams, which is now showcased in her new book Activating Democracy: The “I Wish To Say” Project (University of Chicago Press, October 11, 2016). The book, which captures Oring’s travels from New York City’s Bryant Park to a laundromat on the Navajo Nation in Arizona to Los Angeles’ Skid Row, features photographs of Americans of all ages and walks of life alongside images of their manually-typed messages to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (2016), President Barack Obama (2012 and 2008), and President George W. Bush (2004). The book also features essays by historians, artists and scholars on the role that art plays in advancing public discourse, free speech, civic participation, and democracy.

The messages collected by Oring, each hand-stamped with the date and notices like “Urgent” and “Past Due,” provide a powerful and thoughtful antidote to the hurried communication of today’s emails, texts, and tweets.

“The typewriter serves to slow us down for a moment in time,” writes Oring in the book’s preface. “The simple absence of an ability to delete makes one pause for a moment before committing words to paper. While the project can be playful, it also challenges people to step up, use their voice, and deliver their message with urgency and power.”

Activating Democracy also provides a unique perspective into how the political landscape has changed over the last decade on issues like LGBT rights and healthcare reform.

Oring points to one of the first messages she typed for the “I Wish to Say” project during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City for Pat Myren, a woman from Briarwood, New York. Myren dictated:

“I have been with a wonderful woman for twenty years. We’re upstanding members of the community and you should visit us in our homes and in our lives and see why us being married will not in any way affect you but will give future financial security to the woman that I love.”

At the same time, Oring says it reveals how American leaders have failed to make progress on a range of urgent issues like immigration reform and or the economic inequality of Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans. In April 2016, Henry Murphy of New York City wrote: “It’s time for economic justice, particularly for those who work the hardest and are paid the least.”

In conjunction with the book’s launch and as part of her ongoing project, Oring will perform “I Wish to Say” in several cities between now and Election Day, including New York, Washington, DC and Raleigh, NC. At each performance, Oring, a former journalist long obsessed by typewriters, dresses the part of a secretary from the 1960s, wearing a red suit with matching fingernails. She sets up a small table with two chairs and a typewriter under the banner “Write a Postcard to the President.” For the touring schedule, visit www.sheryloring.org/news-and-events/.

About I Wish to Say:
“I Wish to Say” is a project of Creative Capital, and has been made possible in part by grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts; the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by The SHS Foundation, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and general operating support from the New York State Council on the Arts; the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of cultural Resources; the Puffin Foundation; and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Related Link:

Sheryl Oring is an UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts MFA Alumna. For more about her work, please visit:
http://www.sheryloring.org/

Image is courtesy of Sheryl Oring.

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