“A Community At Peace” is a multi-media installation that debuted November 17, 2008 at The Space in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to coincide with “World Peace Day.”
I invited 550 Eureka Spring’s residents to sit for individual portraits while they prayed for, visualized, meditated on, or simply thought about peace. The black-and-white digital photographs were shot in my studio and collectively shown in a multi-media presentation utilizing photographic prints, video screens and LCD projectors.
The population of Eureka Springs is approximately 2,300 and I thought it important to include a diverse cross-section of the community. To my surprise, very few people declined to participate. Many in the community contacted me after hearing about the “Peace Project” and several non-resident visitors asked to be included. I did not refuse anyone who wanted to take part. Ten people asked to be photographed with their children. I also shot three groups of siblings, including a set of twins.
Scheduled participants arrived one-at-a-time at my studio and were photographed against a black backdrop. Most chose to sit in a chair, many preferred to stand, and some sat or laid on the floor while visualizing peace. Everyone brought there own unique perspective on how they wished to convey “peace” in front of the camera. Each sitting took, on average, 20 minutes.
There was no predetermined number of people set to be included. Intuitively, it felt right to stop shooting when the number reached 550. The scheduling, shooting and editing of the photographs was an eight-month process.
The idea of a multi-media installation was always the plan and was inspired by The Space, a 60 ft. x 40 ft. renovated event hall. The large open room with high tin ceiling, clean, sparse walls and track lighting felt ideal for the installation.
After editing and choosing the “one” photograph to represent each individual, I tackled the logistics of how best to show the collection. I acquired two LCD projectors and put together a digital slideshow of all 550 portraits. One projector, set up outside across the street, projected the slideshow onto the front, exterior, white wall of the building. The other projected images through a window onto an exterior wall that could be viewed from an outdoor deck off the main room.
I chose 320 of the 550 portraits to print, matt and hang along the interior walls of The Space. The 6” x 8” portraits in 8” x 10” black mats were hung tightly abutted in three rows along the walls of the room.
I placed thirteen computer monitors, DVD players and television sets on pedestals of varying heights in a circle in the middle of the room. I divided the 550 portraits into 13 slideshows. Each screen displayed approximately 40 images at four-second intervals.
The images were divided alphabetically by participant’s first names, hence, Aaron to Bill were shown on Monitor one, Caroline to Frank on Monitor two, Gail to Ivan on monitor three, etc. I received some technical assistance in hooking up the electronic components.
I also created a 4 x 8 ft. “A Community At Peace” poster incorporating all 550 portraits.