Faces have been plastered all over the Taylor Family Digital Library to welcome students, new and returning, to the University of Calgary.
This unique art initiative is part of the Inside Out project, part of the drama department’s Happiness project, and the faces belong to students who were in two of drama professor Patrick Finn’s winter semester classes.
The Inside Out project is an international program that was sparked by French artist JR, who won the best of 2010’s TED talks.
The TFDL has over 400 of these student faces, looking out the windows to the U of C campus. They represent personal identity, and that everyone has a story to tell.
“Our message is about the positive effect of individual story, of everyone being able to tell their story,” said Finn. “So we collaborated with the library, because they talk about story as well, and we ended up taking over the library and putting up all of the images.”
The project at the U of C ended after the 2012 winter semester. Finn felt that the beginning of the new semester was the perfect time to initiate the project because it would welcome students to a new year.
“By the time they were printed, it was the end of the term, so we didn’t want to put up the pictures when no one was around. But using them now to welcome all of the new students and to welcome back all returning students, it works really well,” said Finn.
Finn said this unique project represents new perspectives in education. Also, he said the TFDL, which is a learning environment that brings people together, is the best place for the pictures.
“It’s the future of education, the idea of all of us having a story to tell and all of us having faces. All of these people coming back together is the centre of what university should be about,” said Finn. “We felt that this type of thing is a unique way to personalize the library as a place of ideas and a place where we can all come together to share.”
Courtney Ho, who graduated from the U of C’s English program last year, is one of the project’s participants, meaning her face is pasted somewhere in the TFDL. She said the project is important for the U of C because it fosters community in a unique way, and because everyone had the opportunity to express their interpretation of happiness.
“It emphasized the concept of happiness, and how it’s one of those subjects that’s very universal. Most people have their own interpretation of it,” said Ho. “It’s important because we participated in something that makes a community on campus.”
The TFDL was more than happy to allow the faces on the building. The TFDL’s director of cultural and community programs Donna Livingstone said it was an opportunity to showcase the building itself, and showcase projects and work students at the U of C are working on.
“This is a perfect way of introducing new students to the [TFDL]. It’s an amazing building and it’s very student-friendly, so this seemed like a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to showcase what students on campus are doing,” said Livingstone.