UNCG art professor Sheryl Oring will discuss her new book “Activating Democracy: The ‘I Wish to Say’ Project” and perform the popular project on Thursday, Oct. 27, at UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum.

For the past 12 years, Oring has traveled the country with a vintage typewriter, inviting thousands of Americans to dictate messages to the president and presidential candidates. The project, titled “I Wish to Say,” has culminated in a new book which captures this unique project and discusses the role that art plays in advancing public discourse, free speech, civic participation and democracy.

"Activating Democracy" book cover

Book cover photo by Damaso Reyes, courtesy of Intellect Ltd.

The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. with a special book release and a performance by Oring and UNCG students in the museum atrium, followed by a presentation and discussion with Oring and contributing book essayists at 7 p.m. Attendees will be invited to dictate postcards to the next president.

Local contributors include Dr. David Holian, associate professor of political science at UNCG; Lee Walton, associate professor of art at UNCG; George Scheer, founder of Elsewhere, a living museum in downtown Greensboro; and Dhanraj Emanuel, a Greensboro-based photographer.

“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.”

In April, nearly 60 UNCG students participated in an “I Wish to Say” performance in New York City’s Bryant Park. The project caught national attention, with stories appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” The Bryant Park event produced more than 300 letters, all of which were mailed to presidential candidates.

Oring’s next performance will take place at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem on Nov. 1. For a full touring schedule, visit sheryloring.org/news-and-events. To learn more about the UNCG School of Art, visit vpa.uncg.edu/art.

 

Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Brian Palmer/brianpalmer.photos