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Meet TED 2011 Prize Winner, artist JR

Every year, TED chooses an exceptional individual for the TED Prize. Individuals with world changing ideas, and acting on them. The prize is $100,000 prize along with one wish… a wish to change the world. Artist JR travels the world, from war torn areas to slums, JR put his brand of art in the public eye and has the power to uplift communities.

JR had humble beginnings as a street artist, throwing up his art in the streets, no intention or grand vision of becoming an internationally recognized artist and activist. He started taking pictures of people in the streets, real people in his own community. Engaging with them, asking permission to take their photos out to display them in the streets and around the world.

A defining JR photo would be a close up of a face, the eyes… you would see the humanity of the subjects in his portraits. JR would take these, make them huge and wheatpaste them to building, homes, trains, and bridges at a scale that becomes part of the visible landscape. Wherever he was, he would rely on the people of the community to help him make and install the art… literally knocking door to door or approaching people in the streets to see if they would be interested in being part of the project. Sometimes, people met him with skepticism, and often, those people through curiosity and seeing what was happening, would end up being part of what was going on. After all, this is a collaborative project, bringing people together making and working together to build something- through sweat, the making of things, and most of all, curiosity, trust and friendship developed.

TED Prize Winner JR & INSIDE OUT from TED Prize on Vimeo.

JR’s talk at TED was one of the most inspiring, visually and emotionally. JR’s TED wish for the world was this… “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.”

Essentially, he is inviting us to be part of his project, asking us to take a photo, uploading that photo, and he would send us a poster to paste. A Bigger idea would be get a group of people together, work together, and paste it on a public space. There are details and you can find out how to participate at

On stage right after, a big part of the talk was to call people to action and instantly, the TED audience were offering him everything from a studio in New York, paid trips around the globe, to a first film grant from Sundance for his next film. Pretty amazing. JR’s full TED talk below. It has been amazing being here at TEDActive… mind blowing really… especially when JR came out here yesterday here in Palm Springs, spoke more about his insideout project and just… hung out.

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