The Big Picture

January 31, 2020
IT'S ME Dejane Salmon Lawrence, 17, poses with her Inside Out poster. The project was started by artist JR .
STEPHEN BLUE FOR TIME FOR KIDS; STEPHANE CARDINALE—CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES

BROOKLYN, New York—A truck that looks like a camera is parked outside of a high school. The vehicle belongs to the Inside Out Project. As part of this art initiative, groups of people all over the world have their portraits taken. Then the pictures are pasted up together for people to see.

The Inside Out Project was started by JR, a French street artist. During his 2011 TED Talk, JR made a wish: “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world inside out.”

JR says that by putting their portraits on display, people are able to convey a message. That message may be on any topic, such as politics or self-expression. Sometimes, the message is obvious. At other times, it’s left to viewers to interpret.

So far, more than 300,000 people in more than 140 countries have joined a group “action.” This includes actions at 423 schools. School actions are important, JR told TIME for Kids: “I’ve been surprised by projects that were made by kids [who] were digging into a subject and issues that . . . were not being dealt with another way.”

Students in Action

On a fall afternoon, students at the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance get their chance to participate in Inside Out. One by one, they climb into the truck’s photo booth to have their picture taken. Their faces come out of a slot in the side of the truck on black-and-white posters.

STUDIO ON WHEELS This Inside Out Project truck houses a photo booth and printer.

STEPHEN BLUE FOR TIME FOR KIDS

Dannielle Darbee, the school principal, joins the fun. The students cheer as she climbs into the booth. “There’s a positive buzz today,” Darbee says after having her picture taken. She notes that the school doesn’t have a regular art teacher. “We’re a business school,” she says. “When we get an opportunity to do something artistic, we take it.”

Later, students help cover a wall with the posters. “Put this up first!” says senior Angelina Santiago, 16. She hands a rolled-up poster to Jaime Scatena, who works for the Inside Out Project. He steps on a ladder and pastes Principal Darbee’s image on the wall.

Once a few more faces have been added, Angelina steps back for a look. “You see my face?” she says. “I want people to remember me.” Angelina says their action is meant to show the history of the school to future students. “I hope they keep [the project] going,” she adds.

Funding is available for schools that want to hold their own Inside Out Project action. What will your action be about?

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LOOKING UP People in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, walk on portraits produced by JR for the Inside Out Project, in 2016. The installation celebrates the Summer Olympics, which the city hosted.

CHRIS MCGRATH—GETTY IMAGES

ON DISPLAY Students at Ottoson Middle School, in Arlington, Massachusetts, participate in the Inside Out Project in 2016. Their action is meant to take a stand against racism and celebrate diversity within the school community.

COURTESY INSIDE OUT PROJECT