Yu Ru Huang – Citizenship Week

As I walk through the many doors in time and space, the views from the opposite side of the doors are often the echoes of the mirror images–as if the shapes are compensating each other in music. My proposed design for the door is derived from the concept of the interactive project Echoes of Language. For the project participants are asked to choose words of personal significance, words that are loaded with value and life experiences. People write such words by hand onto a printed shape of a human body that is incorporated into the group art; they later discover their words as part of the art work in public. The process thus enables the art to serve as a platform for sharing and exploring our common humanity. Nearly one hundred people from diverse backgrounds have already provided their handwritten words for the project; more will be invited to participate as the project progresses.

The doors exist in the process of reflecting each other. As an interactive piece of work, the design also allows members of the hosting organizations to participate in the process of art making. (People can add their words to the picture prior to the final varnish.)

The door design will also use handwritten words from some of the participants of Echoes of Language. Many of the words were written by my fellow artists from Houston’s Citizenship Week art exhibitions. As part of the art exhibitions for the past four years, the project has presented the many faces of our city.

“The death of a language is a disaster. It’s as if someone had dropped a bomb on the Louvre,” said MIT linguist Ken Hale. Inspired by these words, I named the project Echoes of Language. After collaborating with participants, I deleted the s after the word languages. I encountered many echoes, but they sounded like one language. In a homogenizing world, languages are defined more by ideology and the economy than by nationality or geographic borders.