Art project lights up Richmond Civic Center

Photo courtesy of Inside Out Project

Richmond citizens have spoken, loudly and clearly.

“Inside Out,” a public art project spearheaded by Bay Area artist Christy Chan, went live on Tuesday on the tower at Richmond Civic Center, which is the tallest building in downtown Richmond. Large-scale, luminous night-time video projections of phrases submitted by local residents will display nightly between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. through Sunday.

Over one month, about 1,100 phrases were submitted through the art project’s website and workshops. 100 were selected for display on the tower. They ranged from “We are immigrants not delinquents,” to “No more celebrity presidents” to “I worry about Bay Area inequity.”

“At a time when the word ‘wall’ is being used to divide people, in this project, a wall is being used to instead bring together a community of people with diverse backgrounds to raise their voices and be seen,” said Chan.

Chan partnered with local non-profits and businesses including RYSE Youth Center, NIAD and Kaleidoscope Coffee to offer free guided workshops to help residents work on phrases. The workshops were offered in tEnglish, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

The project is viewable from both the ground and at 180 degree angles from the above-ground Richmond Bart train, according to Chan.

A community party to celebrate the project’s launch will be held Saturday, Aug. 24, in the courtyard at Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., from 7-9:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket and will be treated to a complimentary artisanal beer from Richmond-based nano-brewer Origin Brewer.

Chan’s project was made possible by a Richmond Arts and Culture Commission Neighborhood public mini-art grant.  Support for the project also came from The Richmond Art Center, Animated Architecture and in-kind donations from the community, Chan said.

It’s the first video-based art exhibit in Richmond. While the project came with significant technical and logistical challenges, Chan said she as motivated by the prospect of raising voices in the community.

“I am the daughter of immigrants and have seen what it’s like if communities feel invisible or feel that speaking up puts you at risk,” Chan said. “I want my neighbors and the people of Richmond, one of the most racially and socioeconomically diverse cities in the Bay Area and also the country, to be able to use a simple art project such as Inside Out to amplify their voices.”

Chan has been a Bay Area resident for more than two decades and has exhibited multi-media art installations and films throughout California and New York at venues including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, Kala Art Institute, SOMArts, and The Wassaic Project. 

Visit the Inside Out project website here.