Since 2005 Words We Have Learned Since 9/11 (9/11 Words Project) is a public, participatory photographic project, in which Clayton Campbell invites visitors to his exhibitions to be included in it. In workshops, participants are asked to identify words they have learned since 9-11, or words they knew but have taken on different meanings. Their portraits while holding their words on signs are then photographed. The photographic prints are made on site and placed directly into the installation. Participants can be random viewers who have come to see the exhibit, or specific groups or communities representing a part of our social fabric, such as a poor African American elementary school class and a corresponding all white private school class. For example, Campbell invited 130 First Responders in Mobile, Alabama; or engaged with nuclear power plant workers in Camac, France. The 9/11 Words Project has been in ten countries, four continents and twelve American cities. To date there are over 1300 portraits in the installation.
For this project Campbell will work with Los Angeles Poverty Department. He will photograph members of the Skid Row community with their responses to the theme of the Words Project. A talk about the 9/11 Words Project, with projections of the portraits from the LAPD collaboration, will take place at both the Skid Row History Museum & Archive and the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.
Clayton Campbell: “It is very important for the 9/11 Words Project to include the voices of our marginalized citizens. No conversation is whole without all of our voices. As the diversity of voices based on race, class, age, country, and religion grows, the Words We Have Learned Since 9/11 project has become a non-linear conversation about our hopes and aspirations for an uncertain future. It is a visual legacy for the first two decades of the 20th century and one of the reasons it was asked to be part of the “9/11 Collection of Prints and Drawings” in the Library of Congress. They understand as an artwork it is still growing because as we move away from September 11, 2001, the theme is about everything that has happened “since” 9/11, and so the project remains incredibly relevant as we move towards the 20th anniversary in 2021.
About Clayton Campbell
Since 1975 Clayton Campbell has worked in the field of arts and culture as a visual artist, curator, arts administrator, and arts writer. As an artist, Campbell is known for his socially engaged projects, and has been exhibiting paintings, drawings, prints and photographs since 1980. He shows his work locally at Coagula Gallery and his newest exhibition is a 20,000 word virtual novella with original photographs entitled The 1% War, opening on-line October 15. A fiction set six years from now, it chronicles a civil war in the United States through the photos of an artist turned war correspondent.
His seminal project, Words We Have Learned Since 9/11 is a public participatory photographic project begun in 2005 and now consists of over 1300 portraits. It has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Unit 24 Gallery, London; The Higher Bridges Arts Center, Enniskellen, Northern Ireland; the Nam Jun Paik Art Center, South Korea; the Aaran Gallery in Tehran; The Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris; the WYSPA Institute for Art, Gdansk Poland; Outdoor Projection Installation, Warsaw, Poland; Scope Basel, Switzerland; the International Center of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; Photo Galerij Lang, Samobor; City Museum of Dubrovnik, Batana, Rovinj; City Museum of Vodice; the Three Shadows Photography Art Center, Beijing; the University of Capetown, South Africa; The Museum of Mobile, Alabama; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Barrick Art Museum, University of Nevada Las Vegas; Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery; The Wonder Institute, Santa Fe; Pitzer College Gallery, CA. In 2003 the French Ministry of Culture awarded Clayton the distinction of Chevalier, Order of Arts and Letters, for his work in the international field of arts and culture.