ABOUT THE PROJECT
Together Held is a public art project that I created with three other artists in Summer 2015, commissioned by Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota in partnership with Forecast Public Art as part of the Healing Spaces initiative, thanks to generous support from The Kresge Foundation.
Together Held was designed to make visible the strong, supportive community that moves through Planned Parenthood every day, reminding us that we are all connected. From June 2 to September 15, 2015, visitors to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Vandalia Street in St. Paul – including patients, families, staff, advocates, and donors – were invited to anonymously interact with eight stations that were placed throughout the clinic waiting areas and in the staff break room. Participants wrote responses to several prompts on small pieces of paper, which in turn were transformed by the project artists and volunteers into small art objects that other participants could receive as a gift (or simply peruse in the bowl).
The questions that we asked included:
- What song is in your head right now? How does it make you feel?
- If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
- Share a recent dream.
Participants also were encouraged to write or draw anything they wanted.
We received 400+ incredible responses, all of which have been transformed into art objects and dispersed into the Planned Parenthood community. Here are just a few sample responses.
“Listening to Modest Mouse calms me down and sooth my soul. ‘And we carried it off so well.’”
“The song that’s in my head right now is Sunday Candy by Chance the Rapper. This song makes me feel happy about love, not just the love from a partner but the love from family and friends as well. It’s hard to think of one place I want to be right now because it is the world I have yet to see.”
“You are loved. There is a community here that supports you. Many have faced your decision, most without support. Fortunately for me, I had the same support.”
“If I could be anywhere right now, I’d be down in the south at a rodeo!”
“I would be in the Virgin Islands with my boyfriend, showing him the islands I grew up on.”
“After this is over I’m changing my life. The admissions counselor at St. Kate’s called to tell me I’ve been accepted while I was right here in this waiting room. I’m going to finish college and one day I’ll be pregnant at the right time.”
“I dreamt that I was a cartographer in the tangles of your hair.”
“I’m a black-Asian girl with much Ethnicity Topped with Attitude and Afrocentricity”
“The girl next to me smells amazing”
“Thank you so much for understanding why we all come here. The beautiful notes in the bowls not only made me smile, laugh, cry (good tears)… they gave me strength.”
Our amazing partners at Planned Parenthood will continue to share the project archive on their blog and social media – look for the hashtag #TogetherHeld. Big thanks to all who shared!
Video: Xiaolu Wang & Hannah Geil-Neufeld
Photos: Theo Goodell