I have always wanted to be a real estate developer and start my own business so that I can build sustainable apartment buildings that do not waste resources or energy, and as a result, end up paying for themselves over a few years. Building sustainable apartment buildings would be easier and more valued in other countries around the world, but I realized, sustainable buildings would have a greater impact in the U.S. where there is currently a smaller presence of them in the market. I want to be part of the trend toward more sustainable lifestyles, and JR is one of the reasons I have bigger dreams and aspirations for my passion.
JR is an artist who photographs people and then uses wheat paper to paste his photos on the built environment around the world (buildings, trains, etc). His photos deal with struggle, identity, conflict, freedom, and poverty, and they often pay tribute to those who are victims of war, crime, rape, or political and religious fanaticism. I first discovered his work in high school when I had to watch his Ted Talk for my photo class. The theme of his Ted Talk focused on “One Wish to Change the World,” in which he explained that he is trying to change the world through his art by telling people’s stories. For example, he did one exhibit by taking pictures of Palestinians and Israelis, and put them on both sides of the wall that separates the two countries – and no one could tell who was who. JR inspired me to believe that I could in some way have an effect on the world. He uses his passion for photography and people to create change in communities that are burdened by some of the world’s most prevalent hardships. For this reason, it would be a privilege to take JR to dinner.
His work is spread across buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle East, on the broken bridges in Africa, and the favelas in Brazil. He has seen cultures and areas that are not typical travel destinations, which gives him a unique insight into the world. While I would love to sit back quietly and listen to his stories and experiences with all the people has photographed and all the places he has visited, I would want to also focus our conversation on how he made his passion into a career that has changed the world. It is a rare thing to find an individual who followed their passions (especially in art) and ended up have a substantial impact on communities and people around the world. Because of his different experiences with some of the poorest and most conflicted countries, I would want to know what he has learned from the people he has photographed and what he has taken away from working in these impoverished communities.
We can all do our part to have a positive influence on the people around us, but I am always most drawn to the people who have bigger goals and dreams and pursue them with few inhibitions. It is hard to illustrate what a conversation would be like with a man who has done so much, because it would not follow a typical dialogue and I wouldn’t want it to. Either way, it would an amazing opportunity to ever get a change to sit down with the person who inspired me to dream of accomplishing bigger and riskier goals.