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Portraying America through the use of photos

Inside Out Project makes a stop in Grand Rapids
11M Bridge photo
11M Bridge photo
Posted at 11:37 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 06:39:19-04

GRAND RAPIDS — It's an effort to create a portrait of America one individual picture at a time. And on Monday, the Inside Out Project made a stop in Grand Rapids.

The Inside Out 11M project is part of a nationwide, participatory art initiative to create a portrait of America that includes immigrants and their descendants.

"Grand Rapids is an incredible city to promote art with ArtPrize, and I totally agree with this project. So I wanted to come out and support it," said participant Robert Amaya.

The photo project, which allowed people to take their pictures in Grand Rapids Monday, is part of the larger Inside Out Project, which focuses on various actions such as climate change and education.

"So Inside Out project was created in 2011, when JR, the French artist was granted a wish, and his wish was that art could change the world. So basically, he is giving the world the use of paper, and black white photography, so anyone can stand up for what they believe using their their portraits," said project manager, Jaine Scatena.

In the 10 years since the project's inception, they've printed more than 400,000 portraits in 138 different countries.

Organizers say the 11M project highlights the need for immigration reform, and supports the 11 million undocumented people wanting to make America home.

The issue is a timely one, with Congress set to vote on immigration legislation this fall, which would enable millions to earn citizenship.

"The reason why we're doing efforts like this, because right now, we believe that it might be possible to pass a pathway to citizenship to the for the undocumented community that has been working tirelessly to keep America running through the pandemic," said Danny Caracheo Teniente, an immigrant rights organization with the Michigan People's Campaign.

After photos were taken at a special truck Monday, they were placed on the Blue Bridge.

"I'm really glad, again, that efforts like this are happening, because art has power to, you know, open up people's minds," said Caracheo Teniente.

The project will be in Lansing on Tuesday and in Metro Detroit later in the week as part of a 16-city tour.