Raise Your Voice to the President: Join Sheryl Oring Tomorrow at Belmont
By Jim Ridley
on Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 8:41 AM
One of the most remarkable art projects of recent years makes a stop tomorrow, Oct. 1, in Nashville on the campus of Belmont University—and anyone can participate.
You may have seen Sheryl Oring on the ABC News (where she was a "Person of the Week"), Countdown with Keith Olbermann or in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. In 2004 she began a project called "I Wish to Say," for which she toured the country in a sort of ’50s secretarial ensemble. Stationing herself in public at a manual typewriter, she invited passers-by to dictate postcards to the president, which she gathered and sent to the White House.
Samples can be found at her website, and while dissatisfaction typifies a great many of them, others are shows of support, or simply warm greetings. (That does not include the one which begins, "Here are our terms for your surrender.") But the entire process restores some of the personality to written communication: you're not just sitting at a keyboard firing off a disembodied missive into the void. It turns a private act of communication into a public address, holding up a bullhorn to each participant's single voice—an engaging demonstration of free speech.
Oring's current project is called "I wish to say to the future president," and she sets up tomorrow from noon to 2:30 p.m. in the gazebo next to Belmont's School of Music. Anyone can come by and dictate a message to whoever's in the White House come January. She gives a talk at 10 a.m. in Belmont's Massey Performing Arts Center, then after her session with the public she will attend an exhibition opening in Gallery 121 in the Leu Center for the Visual Arts at 4:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public, and people are encouraged to park on the side residential streets near Belmont.
And please, spread the word to as many people as you can.
(UPDATE: I initially had the event listed as today; that has been corrected. My apologies.)