have no fear
If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.
~ George S. Patton
Fear Not is a community-based art project that creates an anti-fear environment both on the street and in art spaces. The ongoing exhibition will include over 150 images of Fear Not Indirect Mail that has been delivered on the streets of San Francisco, Oakland, Brisbane, Austin, Chicago, Nashville, Kapa’a, and Wailua in the United States, Karlsruhe in Germany, and Florence and Milan in Italy, and London in England will be on view. Fear Not Indirect Mail involves participants writing anti-fear messages on postcards that are turned into magnets and placed somewhere out in the community (on bus stops, street signs, etc.) for someone else to find.
Jennifer Maria Harris: "I have shown my work in traditional art venues for many years, but I have also always created artworks that exist outside of those spaces and that invite and involve people from all walks of life, even some who might not feel comfortable in, or interested in, a gallery or museum.
In the fall of 2007 I read an interview in The Sun magazine with Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue. The interview focused on questions of spirituality and creativity, and along the way it mentioned that the phrase "Do not be afraid" appears 366 times in the Bible. I imagined the person who had gone through over a thousand pages looking for that one message, and it made me think about how we are constantly making choices with regard to filtering the information around us, whether that's information from the Bible or another religious text, from friends and family, or from our own thoughts. That made me interested in creating a project that would make those choices more transparent.
As human animals, it is natural for us to choose to focus on and communicate about what to be afraid of. In our current culture, where we are surrounded by an overwhelming amount of information from around the globe, this results in an equally overwhelming amount of fear-oriented messages, both in our mass media and in the information we share with each other.
The Fear Not project seeks to address this culture of fear, which cuts across communities and contributes to the divisions in our society, by inviting people to consciously deliver anti-fear messages to each other and create a culture of Fear Not. The messages tell people not to be afraid, but I don't think the power behind the message is in the words. It's in the reminder that we can choose to see those words in the world around us. It's in the reminder that we can then choose to pass those words on. It's in the fact that someone else chose to share them with us, without regard for our race, religion, or political beliefs.
In all of these ways, I hope to emphasize how the power to shape our emotional environment, and the kind of world in which we choose to live, lies with us, not with the media or anyone else.