Ex Leo Burnett Creative Director takes the High Line

I was walking the High Line in NYC and stumbled on #iThinkOutsideMyBox, a global community studio and gallery founded by David Everett-Carlson.

In passing, seeing these little 3 x 3 inch cardboard canvasses that have been painted by passerby’s, it caught my “tourist” attention. I stopped to see what it was all about. In reading the little blurb, I was captivated by the story of ‘engaging the public in public art’ during and post the occupy Wall Street movement.

No, I’m not an activist or someone with a say for a particular movement, but what touched me was the fact that people were impacted, effected and something very human - expression through art- started as a result of that impact.

So I stopped. Two other passerby’s stopped too and we were handed a blank mini cardboard canvas to express ourselves. Intrigued to know why David, the creator and organizer, is doing what he’s doing, I asked David “Why did you start this?”. I learned that he was a former Creative Director of a leading agency, Leo Burnett in NYC. Coming off visiting and meeting with an agency in Manhattan and being actively involved in the agency and media business, I was intrigued to find “one of my own”, so to speak, now representing individuals on the street rather than brands.

I sat next to David, as he poured paint and instructed us that we could keep or contribute our final piece to the 20,000 pieces already contributed. As I started to process and contemplate my approach, I was given a small blank cardboard canvas, which was torn and exposed on one half side. As I sat there, I thought, I like the fact that this canvas is irregular. It’s similar to what we’re often handed. Something irregular or unexpected. It’s not what we’re given that defines us but rather what we do with it.

As I considered my approach, it fascinated me that this person went from the “pinnacle”, so to speak, in the agency world to this. It prompted me to ask of him, “why”? “What’s the purpose of what you’re doing?”

In chatting with David, I didn’t get a real sense that he knew what the goal was. What he is doing now has turned into something more meaningful than the work he did before. So he continues.

What I know is that it appeals to our creative and collective expression. To create is something that is at the heart of who we are. To be a part of something, while also uniquely expressed, is also part of our nature. David has tapped into what it means to be a human and created a public forum to express it.

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