Sheryl Oring launches Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project

Sheryl Oring launches Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project

Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Cover photo: Damaso Reyes. Courtesy of Intellect Ltd.
October 25, 2016
Sheryl Oring launches Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project

Thursday, October 27, 2016, 6:30–8:30pm

Weatherspoon Art Museum
500 Tate St.
Greensboro, NC 27412
#ActivatingDemocracy / #IWishtoSay

Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project discusses the role of art in advancing public discourse, free speech, civic participation and democracy

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro announces that UNCG art professor Sheryl Oring will launch her new book Activating Democracy: The “I Wish to Say” Project and perform the popular project this Thursday, October 27.

Driven by a powerful belief in the value of free expression, Oring has for more than a decade been helping people across the country voice concerns about public affairs through her I Wish to Say  project. This book, published by Intellect Books and distributed by the University of Chicago Press, uses that project as the starting point for examining the ways artists are addressing issues such as free speech, civic participation and democracy through their work today. It features essays by contributors ranging from art historians and practicing artists to scholars and creators working in literature, political science, and architecture. All the contributors offer a different approach, but they share a primary goal of sparking a dialogue not just among makers of art, but among viewers and readers, and the concerned public at large. The resulting volume will be an essential resource for politically engaged contemporary artists searching for innovative, cross-disciplinary ways of making and sharing art.

“Sheryl Oring has activated democracy by stressing conversation over voting and reactivating a seemingly abandoned, deeply gendered tool of communication: the typewriter,” says artist and Duke University Professor Pedro Lasch. “We have much to learn from her and the artists, scholars and activists included, as we ask ourselves what we would say to the U.S. president.”

Thursday’s event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6:30pm 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 7pm. Visitors will be invited to dictate postcards to the next President. The North Carolina-based contributors who will discuss their essays are Lee Walton, associate professor of art at UNCG; Dr. David Holian, associate professor of political science at UNCG; George Scheer, founder of Elsewhere, a living museum in downtown Greensboro; and Dhanraj Emanuel, a Greensboro-based photographer.

An assistant professor of art, Oring has an interdisciplinary practice that incorporates both old and new media to tell stories, examine public opinion and foster change. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses at UNCG’s School of Art and in the Lloyd International Honors College. Oring was recently named Distinguished Spartan Scholar by the UNCG Humanities Network and Consortium.

Oring’s next performance will take place at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem on November 1. For a full touring schedule, visit

About the book’s essays:
Bill Anthes writes “Socially Engaged Art, Photography and Art History.”
Chloë Bass writes “The Question: The Door to What We Most Want to Know.”
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum writes “The Typewriter: And Ode to Its Smells, Sounds, and Tactile Responses.”
Teddy Cruz writes “The City: The Political Equator and the Radicalization of the Local.”
Ricardo Dominguez writes “Dissent: American Style.”
Corey Dzenko writes the book’s introduction, “Taking a Moment to Have a Say.”
Santiago Echeverry writes “The Look: Patty and Her Avatars.”
Dhanraj Emanuel writes “The Camera: Coming to Terms with Photographing People.”
Hasan Elahi writes “The Digital Archive: Maintaining Privacy By Giving it All Away.”
David Greene writes “Free Speech in a Digital Era.”
Stephanie Elizondo Griest writes “The Road: Stories from the Navajo Nation.”
David B. Holian writes “Efficacy, Trust, and the Future of Civic Engagement.
Kemi Ilesanmi writes “Turning Strangers Into Neighbors.”
Svetlana Mintcheva does a provocative Q&A with Oring.
Miriam Schaer writes “Activism’s Art: A (Very) Brief History of Social Practice and Artist Books.”
George Scheer writes “Let It Linger.”
Edward Sterrett writes “Toward a Sociability of Objects.”
Radhika Subramaniam writes “Small Acts, Forlorn Practices.”
Lee Walton writes “The Paper, the Game, and the City Park: Places for Things to Happen.”
Ed Woodham writes “The Street: Fleeting Situations and Doings.”

Photographers who contributed to the book:
Dhanraj Emanuel, Damaso Reyes, Brian Palmer, Christian Carter-Ross, Jenny Park, Mingzhao Dong, Dagmar Hovestaedt and Sarah Barrick

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October 25, 2016

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