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West Hallways Filled with New Art Installation

West Hallways Filled with New Art Installation

“We are One” is a new art installation filling the hallways at Lakota West. The sixty larger than life photos of in-person and VLO students are part of a global participatory art project called “Inside Out.”

West photography student Martin Philip explains the meaning behind the project. "With the current state the world is in right now, this project did not discriminate but included everyone for who they are... it didn't matter their race, gender, disability... we are all one and deserve to be treated equally as one whole family." The theme also embraces that fact that West is one student body composed of both in-person and virtual learners.

It all started in 2011 when an artist named JR won the TED Prize, challenging people around the world to use art as a platform for change. JR became a global sensation with his Inside Out program by inspiring group actions on varied themes such as hope, diversity, gender-based violence and climate change.

Inspired by JR’s large‐format street "pastings,” Inside Out gives everyone the opportunity to share their portrait and make a statement for what they stand for. It’s a global platform for people to share their untold stories and transform messages of personal identity into works of public art. Each Inside Out group action around the world is documented, archived and exhibited online, with over 260,000 people participating in 129 countries.

Ten years ago, West art teacher Jodi Kessler worked with JR's team to take part in his vision of standing up for a belief. Her computer fine art students created a window display of large-scale portraits that faced the road. When people pulled into the parking lot of Lakota West, they were greeted by oversized faces of Firebirds. 

The Inside Out team reached to Kessler at the beginning of this school year to participate in the project again, and they formulated a plan for a much larger scale mural than the one displayed 10 years ago. 

Kessler’s in-person and VLO photography students took part in the project. “The original plan for the mural was for the portraits to be pasted onto the exterior wall of Lakota West,” said Kessler. “But a last-minute decision moved the mural inside the school. We swiftly pivoted and adjusted our plan to create a new vision for our installation.”

The photography students enjoyed being part of such a global initiative. West junior Ashlynn Sapp commented "I love how diverse and inclusive the project is!” Fellow junior Lauren Hopkins summed it up well. "It was an exciting experience to see VLO and in-person students become one again.

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