San Francisco artist Hunter Franks is part of a growing movement of “Creative Interventionists,” and his medium is people and their relationships with the world around them. This growing movement of creative “placemakers” seek to disrupt social norms and everyday routines in order to get people to think more about their community.
It could be adding a temporary bike lane or “dance lane” using duct tape, or temporarily placing a cluster of potted plants in a parking lot to get people to see what a public park would look like in that space.
“The Knight Foundation has given me a grant to go to four of its cities and do art in public spaces that seeks to break down social barriers and build connections between strangers who would not normally be interacting with one another,” said Franks, who’s currently exhibiting a project at Summit Artspace called “First Love,” a collection of first love stories from residents that “uses love as a unifier. The goal is no matter where you come from or what you look like, we all share a story of a first love,” said Franks, sitting in front of rows of notes he’s already collected from Akron residents.
He’s also set up the Neighborhood Postcard Project at the Main Library in downtown Akron, during which people fill out a postcard noting what they love about Akron. “Then we’re going to take that postcard and mail it to a random person in a different neighborhood,” said Franks. “So they’re getting a surprise piece of mail with a personal and positive story of a neighborhood they’ve never been to.” Thanks to Franks’ efforts, the model’s been adopted in cities all over the world.
Through his uniquely social art, he figures out how to break down barriers between people of different backgrounds and cultures. He’s visited Macon, Ga.; Detroit; and Philadelphia throughout his multi-city “Creative Interventions Tour.”
Franks said he loves the fact that during his first week here, he was able to exhibit at a gallery, which would be unheard of in San Francisco. “The potential for things to happen here is huge. It’s just a matter of finding those people that want to continue to further those things.”
Although he’s admittedly heard some negative things about Akron, Franks has used his visit to connect with the people who love Akron and help them to make their efforts more visible to the community.
Franks, who will be in town through the end of next week, also helped launch an Akron chapter of the League of Creative Interventionists, a global network of people using creativity to help build a better sense of community. Topics of the meetings include how to make our cities healthy and happy, how to improve blighted spaces and designing places to encourage people to go outside.
A Google Group has been formed at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/akron-league-of-creative-interventionists for those interested in joining.
Visit www.hunterfranks.com for info.