Here’s a story that demonstrates the power of social media to create community: I met Jeff Greenspan via Twitter after I retweeted Michelle DelCarlo (@popupmuseum) when she wrote “Creating communal rather than ‘in tandem’ experiences – Selfless Portraits http://flip.it/YRmOY.” I’d been keeping an eye on Selfless Portraits already, a non-profit undertaking which describes itself as “a collaborative art project aiming to bridge the gap between technology and humanity by encouraging small, creative gestures between strangers across the globe.” I think it holds many lessons for museums, as an intriguing example of a) fostering interactions between strangers (something museums often struggle to achieve) b) encouraging people to make art and c) harnessing the best aspects of the digital realm to the world of physical objects. Jeff, it turns out, is chief creative officer at Buzzfeed, and he has a long history of spawning cool projects. I invited Jeff to tell museumers more about Selfless Portraits, and how he envisions it might intersect with our work.
Two and a half months later,over27,000peoplehavesubmittedadrawingofacompletestranger’s FacebookprofilepicturetoSelflessPortraits.com.Thesecreativeinterpretationscanallbeseen alongsidetheoriginalprofilepicsthatinspiredthembyvisitingtheGallerysectionofthesite.
Thisprojecthashelpedusconnectwithmembersofthemuseumandartscommunities.We’ve discussedhowSelflessPortraitscouldbeusedtohelpmuseumattendeesgainabetter appreciationfornotonlyportraiture,butalsothecreativeprocessingeneral.Onesuggestion we’veheardwastohavesomeofthesidebysidesfromtheGalleryatSelflessPortaits.com be projectedontothewallsofamuseum.Theseprojectionswouldbeaccompaniedby “stations”(laptopswithSelflessPortraitsloadedup)andartsupplies.An expert on portraiture couldthenbe guide the groupthroughtheprocess, helping participants focus their observationsoftheirsubjects and their process.Or,aneventlikeaSelflessPortraitsDrawaThoncouldbeaway tobringtechcentricteenagersintoadeeperrelationshipwiththeirlocalmuseum.