With help from my social media networks, I started translating “We are all in this together” into many different languages, and then sculpting these translations out of clay. After firing, I started leaving these ceramic letters and words in public spaces. I continued by giving out these ceramic letters for others to leave in new places. I am interested in how people define “we” and “this” in the phrase, especially with recent political power shifts in the US, and as rifts grow between political parties and communities. I find the ambiguity of this phrase powerful, as it can become personal for each viewer.
In March 2017, during the Social Objects exhibition at C3:initiative in Portland, OR, a group show of the Socially Engaged Craft Collective, I gave out bags of these letters for people to take and place in public spaces. It is my hope as I continue with this project that these translations find new meaningful homes in new spaces and within new communities. Each participant was asked to share a photograph of their installation, and then either leave the phrase there or pass the letters and instructions along to someone else.
Do you have another translation of "we are all in this together"? Would you like to participate in this project by putting letters out into your community? Click below.
The scale of the letters is practical and symbolic. These three-inch-tall letters can easily be carried and placed in almost any public space. They are small, lightweight, and playful. I like the poetic gesture that comes with their size; they are somewhat unnoticeable, but once they are spotted, the meaning makes a big impact. Each letter is crafted from a local clay body, and once it is fired it lasts forever. For me, this represents the power and permanence of words and language. Translations in many different languages, public installation, photographic documentation, and the internet, allow these little sculptural letters to carry a big and far-reaching message. I often think of social activist and town planner Patrick Geddes’ statement: “Think Global, Act Local.” Small acts happening in your neighborhood and within your community can reach the other side of the world.