Sheryl Oring is a public artist, in every sense. Her work is activated and shaped through her interactions with people in public settings, giving a voice to the man or woman on the street and documenting their views and reactions in an unfiltered way.
“Citizenship and issues of civic responsibility, on the local and global levels, are interests that I have been exploring in my work for the past several decades,” she said. “I strive to create platforms for discussion and exchange, engaging a diverse public audience as participants.”
Her work often takes the form of performance. One such work is I Wish to Say, a project she began more than ten years ago, in which passers-by are encouraged to write their thoughts to the next President, as dictated to a typist dressed in 1960s-era secretarial attire. Initially, Oring was the lone typist, but the performance has gradually grown to feature an office-size secretarial pool of workers, each gathering the thoughts, hopes, and opinions of people walking by.
As SECCA curator Cora Fisher describes it: “I Wish to Say exercises art’s muscles in the social practice of democracy. In the midst of America’s fractured body politic, the project delivers thoughtful, pluralistic participation. It invites us to talk back to power with the power of the wish, to express our concern.”
Oring has a long history of commissions, exhibitions, and performances, both in the U.S. and abroad, and has won a number of awards, including a Creative Capital Foundation grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more information about her work visit www.sheryloring.org