The way we express ourselves has changed. Tools for self-expression, even for those that deem themselves not creative are as close as a device in our pockets. We share of ourselves regardless of the praise or scrutiny it may garnish. We find refuge in making silent announcements to the world. Why? Truly, the more important question is, in these 2 dimensional expressions what are we really feeling that is not expressed in a simple imagery?  What are we hiding? Is this being used as a mask, a public persona that hides ones true self? What lies behind the shutter of a lens?

In 2013 the word “Selfie” was officially inducted into our human language, years after it had invaded our consciousness. More than 1,000,000 selfies are taken every day.  The question is why? What is going through the mind of an individual that, at a particular moment, makes them take a selfie? What emotional state drove them to make this, by some people’s accord, self-glorifying proclamation? What is this element that makes them who they are at that particular moment? Are they even aware that such is engrained in their fiber of being? How does this, without any knowledge, humanize us and make us relate to others of all walks of life? Are we strong enough to see who we really are?

I, Cleveland Dean, intend on asking this question without asking the question. You the viewer locally, nationally and globally will answer these questions yourself.  #theselfproject will be an initiative that will allow people to choose from an array of emotional states and express themselves to the masses. It is my intention to have all walks of life participate in this interactive project. The result will be a documentary, a book and an exhibition after being compiled on social media showcasing the hidden feelings we find solace in hiding in these pictures. I hope through this project we are able to face fears, cherish joys and relate to others we may have never thought we had traits in common with. We are all the same; we just don’t realize it enough.

The intent is that the viewer choses the mirror and introspective phrase that they identify with at the time and take a selfie. This selfie is then uploaded to Instagram. Here a library of all those that have taken a picture is formed. This uses social media as a medium to create a work of art as opposed to merely a place to share picture or moments. A new piece of art is created with each post being that the artwork in dependent on the individual that is in the composition. In forming this library one can see that, regardless of race, sex, financial situation, sexual orientation, etc. we all go through the same things and ask face the same internal questions and conflicts. Be that as it may...why are we creating so many divisions amongst ourselves. Hopefully this project will be an aid to exhibit commonality and aid in humanity and humility.

I look forward to starting this journey. With the assistance of donors, sponsors, grants and crowdfunding I will be able to bring what may turn out to being a truly innovative public art installation. Information on this project will be posted on social media via Instagram initially under clevelanddean. I look forward to your participation and appreciate any support that is given.