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The TED 2011 Prize winner JR, a moving and innovative artist who exhibits freely in the streets of the world, unveiled his “wish to change the world” at this week conference. Live from the TED stage in Long Beach, JR wished for men and women to stand up for what they care about by contributing to a large-scale participatory art project – one that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of art.

JR creates “Pervasive Art.” Working with a team of volunteers in various urban environments, he mounts enormous black-and-white photo canvases that spread on buildings, walls, and landscapes.

In Rio, he turned hillsides into dramatic visual landscapes by applying images to the facades of favela homes. In Kenya, focusing on “Women Are Heroes,” he turned Kibera into a stunning gallery of local faces. And in Israel and Palestine, he mounted photos of people doing the same job on each side (and a triptych with a rabbi, imam and priest) on walls across the region. As part of this Face2Face project, he sought to show that Israelis and Palestinians are similar enough to understand one another – despite what separates them – by photographing them doing the same things.

JR remains anonymous – never showing his full face, revealing his name, or explaining his huge portraits – to allow for an encounter between the subject and passers-by.

“When JR was awarded the TED Prize, he was given not just money but the resources and passions of the TED Community,” said TED Prize Director Amy Novogratz. “JR’s extraordinary work has been seen and experienced around the world, and by examining our own identities and passions, we can now join him in a monumental global art project. How far JR’s work will spread, and how deep we can excavate, is up to each and every one of us.”

The wish is to use black and white photographic portraits to reveal personal – and perhaps untold – stories, beliefs, and convictions. By visiting, portraits from around the world will be uploaded, made into posters, and sent back to participants (project co-creators) to be exhibited in their own communities.

“As I worked with the TED Prize team to create my wish, I wanted to stay true to my vision and create an art experiment that gives everyone a chance to share who they are and what they stand for,” said JR. “With my wish, I hope to provide the tools every person needs to reveal themselves, amplify their voices, and shine a light on their faces.”

How the Wish Works

As part of the wish, people will go to (a website designed pro bono by HUGE) and be advised how to take a photo portrait of someone whose story they want to tell, including themselves. Participants will then upload the photo along with a supporting personal statement. While is in English, people can type their statements in any language.

After completing this step, users will be mailed a poster of their portrait and be asked to paste it in their local community – whether as a solitary image in an office window, among other portraits on the wall of an abandoned building, or in a full stadium. The team behind will also help connect participants who want to organize community pastings, and these exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually.

Participants will be asked to donate $20 to help fuel JR’s Inside Out wish. Donors will then receive their poster for them to paste for public viewing. For those who cannot or do not choose to donate, an option to receive a poster for free is available. Because JR does not accept money from corporate sponsors or partnerships, individual participation is critical. This is why every participant is considered a project co-creator and encouraged to contribute. (Distribution of free posters will be dependent on funds available, demand, and the project team’s discretion.)

The first TED Prize was awarded in 2005, born out of the TED Conference and a vision by the world’s leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to change the world – one Wish at a time.

The reward: $100,000, the TED Community’s array of talent and expertise, and the leadership of a TED Prize team led by Amy Novogratz. What began as an unparalleled experiment to leverage the resources of the TED Community to spur global change has evolved into one of the most prestigious prizes.

From Bono’s the ONE Campaign (’05 recipient) to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (’10 recipient), the TED Prize is helping to combat poverty, take on religious intolerance, improve global health, tackle child obesity, advance education, and now inspire art around the world.

For more information on the TED Prize, visit

Editor’s Note – Crossroads will be working with InsideOutProject to organize a local posting, if enough Culver City residents are willing.  If you want to get involved, please comment or email to [email protected] – after all, “arts for all” should not stop after you finish school.

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