Worldwide art project captures faces of city in 1 afternoon

Jeremiah’s At The Bullfrog was the scene Saturday afternoon for “The Inside Out Project: Williamsport Proud,” a global art effort celebrating the pride and diversity of Williamsport.

About 100 people showed up at the downtown site to have their photos taken by Williamsport Area High School art students for eventual inclusion in the mural that will help showcase the city.

Williamsport Area High School Art Teacher Andrea McDonough Varner, who coordinated the project, noted that anyone who signed up it could have their images captured free of charge.

“Our action statement is Williamsport Proud,” she said.

The WASD Education Foundation’s Teacher Mini-Grant Fund sponsored the project.

“I think it’s a great way to showcase our Williamsport pride,” said Williamsport student Schai Bilger.

The international project, winner of the 2011 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Prize, is the brainstorm of artist JR.

It is described as a “large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work,” according to

More than 120,000 people worldwide have participated in the portrait-producing project.

The TED Prize is an annual $1 million award given to an exceptional individual who wishes to spark global change.

This marked the first year it is being done locally.

The hope Saturday was to photograph as many black and white portraits as possible of people throughout the community.

The portraits are to be printed as 36-by-53-inch posters and will be installed on the high school’s campus in a display that will celebrate the diversity, talent, opportunity and beauty found in the school’s community.

“Oh, this is such a neat project,” said Cari Staron, who was among area adult residents agreeing to have her photo taken. “It’s an incredible opportunity for these students to get their work recognized.”

Kennedy Englert, a senior high school student, said she was having fun taking picture of students and others.

And, it was a learning experience for her.

“I have not done a lot of photography,” she said.

Kelly Fischer, a senior student and president of the Williamsport Area High School National Honor Society, said the project really captures “who we are.”

“I can’t wait to see it,” she said.

Senior high school student Shannon Deuel said it was interesting to photograph the many different people.

“It brings people together for something that will last a long time,” she added.

Lycoming College Art Professor Lynn Estomia noted that Lycoming College Art students mentored the younger students taking the photographs.

“It’s great because the kids are working with the high school students,” she said.