Sometimes a story hits home a little too hard. Sometimes that story is about American unemployment.
I was actually connected to Heather Hutton through the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs. Selena Harper (OCA) thought I might be able to provide Heather with some information about resources for artists. Sometimes I know things. Other times I know when to connect people to better resources and information. But I am always willing to try.
Heather and I played email tag for a few weeks but we finally connected by phone. I was out of town for a big chuck of June and she was busy telling the world a story about unemployment.
Will Work for Empty Wallets is a community service art exhibit. The goal of the project:
…To collect 3,000 empty wallets by the end of September to construct a life size replica (11’x20’) of an American Flag. The project was inspired by a true story and based on the millions of untold stories by citizens in the United States losing jobs, homes, families, etc. due to the lack of economic stability in our country right now. The message is not only to promote awareness about the country’s economic condition, but to help instill a sense of hope for the people out there still struggling to find work. It is a peaceful promotion of community, indivisibility, and liberty for all the citizens in the United States who have been affected by unemployment. We have currently collecting 1,000 empty wallets.
I realized in addition to collecting wallets, Heather is collecting stories. These are the true stories of a nation affected by job loss. I think most of you reading this blog knows of a friend or family member who was laid off within the last three years. I was laid off in 2010. I don’t want to go too deep into my story, because this post is not about me.
I wanted to post information about Heather’s project because her story resonates deeply within arts community. In our Ignite class, participates talk a little about themselves the first day. During one session, we half joked that we could start a support group for those of us who have been recently laid off. Other artists are not unemployed, but severely underemployed. Artist work. They work hard, but they are not always working consistently or being paid a livable wage.
A co-inki-dink! It also turns out that a friend of mine (Joanna Brooks) with SCAD’s MFA Film program is part of a team collecting stories through a documentary film about the Empty Wallets project. I decided to write this blog before I knew of Jo’s involvement in the project. Life is funny.
I can’t wait to see this art project come together. Each wallet contains a story, and I think it is worth pausing to listen.
If you want to know more about the Will Work for Empty Wallets project or how you can donate an empty wallet (or two):
The Georgia Department of Labor is collecting empty wallets at all the unemployment offices in the state of Georgia. To find a career center near you, visit www.dol.state.ga.us. The Savannah College of Art and Design is filming a documentary on the progress of this project and we would love to include your story in this unique documentary. There is a cash prize for whomever donates the most wallets.
Metro Pulse Blog
Knight Arts Blog
Paying It Forward – the story that inspired the wallet project