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Art in April: Cybil Guess & the "I Am" Project

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: "I am _________________"

Artist Cybil Guess and photographer Jackie Young asked a couple thousand Austinites to fill in the blank on a chalkboard.

"The project idea was to create a portrait of our community," Guess said. "It was a great opportunity for people to be involved."

The project was featured during Art City Austin in 2008. It was the first year the festival included large-scale installation pieces.

"When I came up with the idea to do the I Am Project, I hadn't really thought of public art as a genre of its own," she said. "This really opened my eyes to a new genre, which was a project that was really focused on being in the public. It doesn't exist in any other way."

Guess received funding to do the project through Art Alliance Austin.

"Obviously one thing that is often hard for artists is to find funding for their projects, especially something like this that doesn't have an end product that can be sold or can be displayed some where permanently. It was a temporary project," she said.

Guess continues to work with the alliance on other projects. Most recently she worked with Club Art House, a teen art club, to create art work for First Night Austin, which is also produced by the Art Alliance. The work the teens produced were incorporated into a design wrapped on buses.

"For that project, they were the creative force. I was there to facilitate it, but really everything you see on that bus is the creative energy of the kids," she said. "I enjoyed being the person who brought all those entities together and made it happen for them."

In the video, Guess talks more about creating a large-scale public art project.

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