Cousins Public Art Project (2005-2007)
Click the thumbnails to view the entire series of paintings.
"Cousins" public art project is conceived to echo the highest aspects of the American community, combining an elegant, Eastern-inspired visual language with the sayings of wisdom masters from a variety of ethnicities, religions, geographic regions and time periods. Fusing words representing the highest aspirations of humankind (taken from great humanists such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, the Buddha, the Sufis etc.) with specially created paintings, Cousins places art and text panels in public spaces, transforming them into wisdom galleries, available to local citizens everyday. The panels provide quiet, surprising moments to be discovered by people from all cultures while going through the motions of their normal day. This project uses our country's diversity as an asset, by emphasizing not only the different cultures in our community, but also how they positively interrelate.
This public art project co-opts the presentation of advertising, with the panels often appearing first as typical advertisements found splayed across the American public square. "Cousins" subverts this media to present timeless sayings from the world's greatest traditions, "selling" wisdom instead of toothpaste or a newfangled kind of undergarment.
By showing how the most sublime thinkers from all cultures and geographic areas, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Greek Stoics, Taoists, Buddhists, Hindus and others, express virtually the same message of peace and acceptance, coming though they might be from a very specific cultural point of view, Cousins introduces local communities to another way of seeing, one that reaches beyond the "us" and "them" of the current political climate into the enduring similarities that define a Truth beyond hatred and division.
Twelve works from the project were installed in bus shelters in Tempe, AZ in 2005-2006 and a permanent installation of 15 large prints on metal signage was mounted in Silver Spring, MD in 2007. Proposals to other locales will hopefully bring the project to more communities around the country.