Self-esteem is something many people struggle with today, including myself. I enjoy being able to make therapeutic exercises and wanted to create an interactive piece that could help others to feel better about themselves. I also wanted to create more interaction between people while they complete mundane tasks such as waiting for the elevator or coming back from classes. While doing said things, people tend to not want to socialize and continue on their way. I knew this would be a difficult obstacle to tackle, so I tried to look at different approaches to the problem.
A reoccurring trend that I’ve really taken a liken to lately is to create something therapeutic and to bring a smile to someone’s face. Initially, I was inspired by the Crosswalk Ballet piece in which was presented in class. Although premeditated, I loved how it brought people together and allowed for the public to also interact with the piece. It brought a liveliness to an otherwise mundane task in the daily life of the city dweller. I took inspiration from this and wondered how I could recreate a similar effect without having people directly interact with one another.
In my piece, I wanted to incorporate some of these elements indirectly. Since confrontation with strangers can be unnerving and awkward, I wanted to create a way for the passerby to interact with others in a positive way without doing it directly. My idea was to create a space for the public to donate uplifting phrases and ideas to others.
In order to prompt others to join in, several phrases were written out on different pieces of colored paper and placed into a bag. A sign was then placed alongside the bag, pen and writing pad that read “Take One or Give one”.
Due to time constraints, I was only able to execute the piece in one location, that being the East Village lobby. Initially, I had wanted to place it in two different places: one social setting, and outside of the health center where people may really need uplifting thoughts.
Upon execution, I was intrigued to see that people were afraid to either approach the piece or reach into the bag. Several people had stuck their hand into the bag, but as soon as they realized that the bag was filled with crumpled papers, they pulled their hand out and carried on with their normal routine.
I feel as though prompting people to take from the bag was successful and that they liked the idea of free stuff, however the excitement was lost once they realized they were only getting pieces of paper. Perhaps if the papers were disguised in a different way and if someone were to have moderated the piece as opposed to it being anonymous, the execution could’ve been more successful.
If I were to test this in a social setting such as a party, I feel as though it would interfere with the initial goal of my piece (to give others motivational words), however it wouldn’t deter from making others smile. In this case, the social setting would have been a better location for this piece.