Social and Emotional Learning – Our Public Space, our Personal Experience: Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection

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Krzysztof Wodiczko, Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection 2012, Union Square, New York, NY. Courtesy of More Art

Krzystof Wodiczko’s artistic practice transforms public spaces into sites of collective memory and historical memorialization. He has worked with diverse populations including the homeless, war veterans, and victims of global atrocities such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Wodiczko’s work is often temporal and doesn’t physically alter the space. He transforms public spaces by projecting ethereal imagery directly onto well known buildings, statues, or other iconic structures in urban environments. His installations prompt viewers to reflect on their own experiences, identities and relationship to past and current events.

Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection (2012), comprised of videos of fourteen U.S. Veterans talking about the myriad effects that going to war has had on them. Wodiczko projected the video on a well-known statue of Abraham Lincoln in Union Square, so that each participant’s image embodied the form of the sixteenth President.

Wodiczko’s work presents a significant opportunity for educators to discuss the personal ramifications of historical events and iconic sites. Immersive sensory works of art, such as Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection, support social and emotional learning (SEL), by inspiring self awareness, collective consciousness and relationship skills. In bringing a diverse population together, everyone has the chance to share moments of empathy, reflection and understanding. Wodiczko relies on a strong collaborative relationship built on trust and engagement from both the subjects and the viewers of his work.

Another major aspect of Wodiczko’s work, is bringing an awareness and contemplation of the social and emotional connections we have to public spaces. In conjunction with Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection, More Art developed a curriculum for middle school classrooms that explores the historical and contemporary functions of Union Square and the role of public spaces within the community and culture at large.

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