• May 14, 2009
  • Posted by Marc

Wooster In The White House - Sharing Your Thoughts

We’ve received so many wonderful and inspiring emails in the last 24 hours.  We wanted to share with you some of the things people have said…

From Jennifer:

“Wow! Your recent post about your experience at the White House briefing made my morning. Back in the Spring of 2007, during my final semester of undergrad, I emailed you about how important the Spring Street Project was in terms of my development as a student studying art and its cultural impacts. I focused my final thesis on street art and its cultural growth.

Two years later, I am back in school for a graduate degree in Urban Policy and Management at The Milano New School because I want to find my voice in the political arena through policy and advocacy for public art/street art/community art (all synonymous in my book). I am currently working for a local nonprofit art organization to gain the administrative and fundraising skills necessary to take the theory I am learning in class to the next level. I’m devoting a lot of time and energy into my professional development in hopes that I will be part of a collective to make a true impact on the growth of public art and space in the United States. It sounds corny and cliche, but It is my passion and my motivation on days that are particularly trying.

So, to read: “Again - our definitions need to change. And we think Obama can do that. At the very least he can start to move the needle forward.”

Truly inspiring! Thank you for attending and thank you for sharing.”

From Teresa:

“I am writing today to personally thank you for going to the White House.  As some one who is working on a public art ringtone project and who understands that the airspace is public property for purposes of sonic transmission, I’m delighted to hear that you had a seat at that table.  I feel it’s so important that this conversation is
happening at the national level because I live in a town where funders, and locals who serve on arts granting panels, the local news media generally don’t “get” contemporary art practices that utilize and question aspects of public space.  I’m hopeful that if the President and his administration are listening, that there’s a chance that public perception will change.  Thanks for allowing your voices to be heard as part of this national conversation on the arts.

I’ve been following your blog for a few years now.  I can’t tell you how much good I get out of starting up my browser with your archive and insights day after day (I’ve used links and content to share with friends as well as in educational settings).

Many thanks for your contributions to contemporary community”

From Priest:

“I am conflicted with this column. As you and Sara say one of the best aspects of street art is that it is “temporary”.  It has an unexpected lifespan, it lives and it dies.  I don’t like to have my pieces buffed, but at the same time there is something exciting about doing as you guys say, “Unauthorized art”.  It is against the grain, upstream, and original.  The eternal battle of “going mainstream” comes into play.  One of the most interesting factors of your website is that you and Sara are broadcasting art that would otherwise only show up in a Metro police station flier. I know you both run legitimate careers outside of the website and I am appreciative of what your website represents but I know the adrenaline rush that I and so many others feel when they walk up to a blank wall exists without the permission of others and cannot be matched with such.  Congratulations on your site and your international and presidential recognition”

From Mitch:

“i’ve been following wooster for what feels like many years. It has become a steady and constant feature of my internet use - i love having it as my homepage so that each day i can start off with some learning and research. I’ve been particularly excited by the New York Street Advertising Takeover recently, thanks for bringing this to my attention. The last time i felt driven to contact you was a few years ago in relation to a discussion about a Nike ad jam, where the placement of the swoosh suggested violence against women. This time, as you might well have surmised, i write in response to your fascinating post from wednesday 13th. I appreciate the manner in which you disclosed this - its this sort of personal communication that makes Wooster feel like a community driven at one level by the love of two individuals for street art. Of course to me it appears that Wooster would be nothing without the constant stream of contributions and interest from the broader global church that we are a part of (excuse the religious metaphor). Which is why, as nitpicking as it seems, i wanted to pull you up on one sentence and one sentence only in what was otherwise an excellent (yet maybe too brief) exposition of how community and alternative media can be elevated to the highest level of official regard. This was the phrase which pricked my ears - “So all of this is to say that we felt that by going to meet with officials in the new Obama Administration we were representing not us, but all of you.” While Wooster has now begun functioning as something that seems to approximate a lobby group for the value of urban art forms and the rights of artists and communities involved in them, i think that you have made a gross error here, which was perhaps just a rhetorical oversight.

Because, as i think you both already know - no one can “represent” the streets. The streets and the artists on them don’t need someone to stand up and speak for them - they have a rich and loud voice of their own. What you represent is your own, well informed, perspective on how and why the streets are important, and in what contexts they have become so.

My own perspective relies on the rationale that the street and its utilisation through whatever means, is an inherently political entity - ultimately democratic, yet subject to the same sort of rules, conditions and exploitations of power that the rest of our society suffers beneath. That is why a “representation” of the streets is inherently flawed, and why i think you may have said that to pacify an attack that you perhaps expected to come.

Be proud that you were invited to the White House on the merit of your personal opinion and work - but don’t try to disguise it as being ambassadors or envoys chosen against your will. By making that mistake you are doing yourselves a disservice, as well as recreating the conditions of power imbalance within our world that simply create more problems further down the track.”

(Or response to Mitch was this - “Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  In no way did we mean to imply that we were representing the entire street art community as we agree, there are many different viewpoints and it’s impossible to represent all of them.  We are indeed only one voice in a very large and diverse discussion and in no way speak for all.  By saying we represented “you” we were specifically speaking about all the people who we do know agree with our views. We talk and hear from people every day about the issues we are passionate about.  These are the people we felt we represented yesterday.  We did not feel we were going there as individuals.  So if you were offended by that we do apologize to you. You are correct, it’s impossible to represent everyone’s views.”)

From Mari:

“Im so ecstatic after reading your post about the trip to the big house, and not jail for once!! So great to have people like you two working to benefit the community at large… I have been struggling so much with our lack of public space, and lack of access to it, and I feel revived and inspired by your acomplishment! THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO”