Penn community expresses 'Hopes and Fears' in Annenberg exhibit
The mixed-media installation displays post-it notes with handwritten confessions of students and faculty
November 2, 2011, 8:30 pm·
Elizabeth Jacobs | DP
Alex Neier | DP
“I hope my students are passing ECON 2!”
“I worry about not finding ‘the one.’”
“I hope Penn doesn’t realize how unqualified I am to be here.”
“I worry that I won’t be able to CHILL hard tonight.”
“I hope I can make a person smile every day.”
“I fear I’ll die alone.”
These are just some of the many hopes and fears of Penn students, professors and faculty that adorn the walls of the Annenberg School’s Forum. Thanks to the “Hopes and Fears Revisited” mixed-media installation, the Penn community has been writing their hopes and fears on post-it notes, “signing” the notes with their fingerprints, and contributing to the project.
With its new home at Annenberg, the exhibition has become a third-generation project. Artists and Rhode Island School of Design graduates Judy Gelles and Linda Brenner — who teaches at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts — began the project at a one-day residency in Love Park in October 2009.
“We asked 100 people what they wished for and what they worried about, and then papered the walls” of a glass house, Gelles said. “Everyone signed with their fingerprint.”
These finger-printed portraits were then scanned, printed and mounted on square wood frames and displayed in the Pentimenti Gallery in Old City from June 3 to Aug. 15.
Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication Michael Delli Carpini attended the gallery showing and decided to capitalize on the exhibit.
“The Annenberg Forum is an ideal public space for this kind of interactive art exhibit,” Delli Carpini said. “Since it is our primary classroom area and a gathering place for students, it provides ample opportunity for them to explore the exhibit and add their own hopes and fears.”
The dean also shared a sociology book published almost fifty years ago, Hopes and Fears of the American People, with the artists.
“I wasn’t aware of the book or that we were doing a sociological study,” Gelles said. “Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s nobody mentioned crime as a fear, or worried about the environment. That’s certainly changed nowadays.”
The exhibition in the Annenberg Forum consists of the the Penn community’s post-it notes, in addition to fingerprinted portraits and a video slide show of post-it notes previously written at Love Park and the Pentimenti Gallery.
While the exhibit consisted of multi-colored post-its at Pentimenti, Gelles said that all of the posts at the Forum will take on blue and green hues, to make a metaphoric “sea of posts.”
In bringing the exhibit to Penn’s campus, the artists have received some differing responses from the previous batches.
“There are a number of little posts that relate to educational issues,” Brenner said. “Although this is open to the public, the age of the participants here is usually a little younger. It’s interesting to find out what their hopes are for the future, since they have a bigger future.”
“A lot of students focused on love and relationships,” Gelles added.
The exhibit will run through the end of the semester at the Annenberg Forum.