Look closely at the picture above. Notice the eyes in the crowd. In order to create this sculpture, Jeff looked at hundreds, maybe even thousands of photographs of Barack Obama. He noted the Americans around the President. Each person in the sculpture is a real person. And if you look deeply, you can see—there’s hope in the eyes.
Jeff began to believe that art can make a difference in the world as an art student in Baltimore, Maryland. His school was in a wealthy neighborhood that butted up against a neighborhood that was facing poverty and violence. He says, “This is the first time that I saw that the world was more complex.”
He began volunteering at a soup kitchen, which led to working with kids, which led to helping those kids create art. The kids he worked with responded to the power of creating something. Jeff saw that it made a difference.
Jeff eventually became an art teacher in the City of Richmond. For 8 years, he has seen art change people’s lives. Using art, Jeff teaches his students they they can make a difference. In the 2008 election, Jeff made phone calls and knocked on doors to elect Obama. But this election, Jeff decided that he wanted to use his skills and passion to inspire others to get involved.
This sculpture is the fruit of that passion. It will be cast in a composite material that is as hard as stone, and slate grey in color. And across the top will be a quote from President Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
“Their fundamental faith in human progress—that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.”
That “fundamental faith in human progress,” Jeff saw that same look in his students' eyes when Barack Obama became president. It didn’t just change the way the students saw political participation. It didn’t just change the way they saw the political system of the United States. It change the way they saw themselves. If you look deeply, you can see. There’s hope in the eyes.