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Amidst a period of personal struggle, I came across the quote, "Is it better to speak or to die?" which sparked a newfound perspective and appreciation for language and how it informs our relationships and understanding of the world.
Oftentimes, people conceal thoughts, opinions, and expressions due to the fear of judgment, rejection, potential suffering, and other consequences. However, I realized that sharing these inner thoughts with others is liberating and opportunistic. Perhaps it leads to a better sense of self or other, brightens someone's day, or results in a stronger relationship.
For my senior thesis, I built and designed a website that provides a safe, artistic platform for people to share things that they wish they said or want to say. Users can upload a message with the option to include a related photo. There is also an archive where users can browse other peoples' messages. Select messages were printed onto 17" x 22" posters and arranged on wire to create a 12 ft x 18 ft installation at the Yale School of Art. A laptop with my website open was placed on a pedestal in front of the installation so that viewers could submit messages in real time.
I opted for a black, white, and bright green color palette to emanate something digital so I could create this dichotomy between automation and human complexity. It was challenging to think of how to successfully accomplish this, but by including hand-drawn elements on the website and setting the tone with specific language in my letter addressing the reader, this was achievable. In addition, sourcing messages was difficult, as I had to find ways to promote my site to the larger community. Through social media posts, mass emails, and word-of-mouth, I managed to receive over 600 messages in the span of 2 weeks.
The goal of this project was to encourage people to say the unsaid. I wanted to give people the chance to express themselves in a unique way – to share language that would allow others to not only get a glimpse into their lives but to also connect and reflect. Overall, my objective was to work with hundreds of others to inspire people to unapologetically speak their truth.