Ten Thousand Ripples

Submitted by Indira Johnson

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Client: Changing Worlds

Location: Chicago and Evanston, IL, United States

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team

Artist

Indira Johnson

Public Art Agent

Changing Worlds

Overview

Ten Thousand Ripples (TTR) is a multi-platform public arts project, a collaboration between Changing Worlds (the lead arts institution in a consortium of cultural and educational organizations and social service and community development agencies) and award winning artist Indira Johnson. At the center of TTR are 100 fiberglass emerging Buddha head sculptures designed by Johnson and installed in sites selected by each of the ten neighborhood partnership cohorts.

Goals

Ten Thousand Ripples (TTR) is part of a larger portfolio of arts and community development efforts occurring in each of the ten participating communities. The goals of Ten Thousand Ripples are to; bring public art to neighborhoods across the city, provide an intense and meaningful art experience outside of traditional art venues and to create a catalyst for community conversations and interactions about peace and nonviolence.
To accomplish these goals, we sought out strong community-based organizations to partner with as lead agencies in each of ten Chicago area communities. As community partnerships were solidified, TTR transitioned from centralized planning to community-based planning and engagement.

Process

The collaborative process included research and conversations with both secular and faith-based leaders. This process took on different shapes per community, but across the board it included community forums, installation site recommendations, artistic programming ideas, resource leveraging, and implementation timelines.

The process transformed everyday citizens into ambassadors of peace, arts, and culture. Each neighborhood received ten sculptures, which they installed in sites chosen by their residents. From the picturesque Loyola Dunes on the North Side to urban gardens and abandoned lots on the South and West Sides of Chicago, the installations were as varied as the communities we served.

Communities used the Ten Thousand Ripples Buddha image as a creative catalyst to bring people together to engage in conversations about contemporary social issues, promote peace, ignite new ideas for artistic and community programming, and coalesce entities that would not have otherwise come together. Throughout the city the emerging Buddha sculptures were welcomed, hugged, interacted with, ignored, debated, occasionally graffitied, offered gifts and protected. Ultimately, they provoked questions, introspection, and conversation at a community level.

Additional Information

A key element of TTR was the social and political use of public space and how the concept of “public” is not fixed, but changes constantly. The Buddha sculptures occupied sites chosen by each community and were subsequently transformed by the environmental forces inherent to each site, whether an abandoned lot or a community garden, a place of violence or a school entrance. Just by being present they invited a reconsideration of meanings and associations and encouraged new viewpoints.