High School Student Hopes His Art Will Change the World

The faces of New Canaan first responders are part of a worldwide art project.

Who: Bryan James

School: New Canaan High School

Age: Class of 2012

Achievement: James, an amateur photographer, and self-proclaimed, "family photographic historian," had been searching for an idea to contribute to a global art project he'd seen online called "Inside Out."

When NCHS history teacher asked his AP American History students to envision a fitting  memorial for the town of New Canaan, James saw an opportunity to answer the assignment as well as the Inside Out challenge.

James would create something less permanent than a statue or stone monument. But it was his hope that the impact of his tribute would be just as lasting.

"Inside Out" is a creation of the Parisian street artist known as JR. James had seen the online video of JR speaking at the TED  (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference at which he was awarded the 2011 TED Prize of $100,000.

JR was recognized for his photographic art installations around the world, and he used the prize money to establish "Inside Out."

The project is described on its website as "a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work." It explains its goal: "Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world."

Once the photographs are submitted the participant receives a large poster-size print of the photo and they are charged with displaying it publicly.

Last June, James met with 12 , and who had responded to the call ten years ago and who agreed to participate in the student's project this year.

They shared their stories with James and he captured their images, which are now on display at the on South Avenue.

Key to Awesomeness: James says that he hopes town residents who see his photographs, especially his of that day may be dim, will be inspired to "aspire to have the same honorable qualities of courage and humility," as these first responders.

He noted the very human quality of the portraits, saying that he saw this as a, "personal and emotional" way to honor these people who are, "living in our community," saying this could make them, "more inspiring and more real."

James, who plans to study materials engineering when he heads to college in the fall, learned something about the importance of his chosen field as well.

As he explains, materials engineers are responsible for developing building components that can offer even greater support to structures like those rising at the site today.


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