French artist creates virtual yearbook for 2020 grad students

JR’s new participatory artwork was unveiled during the TV special ‘Graduate Together: America Honours The High School Class Of 2020,’ in which Lebron James participated alongside other celebrities. (NBC News pic)

NEW YORK: The French street artist has contributed to the “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class Of 2020,” which was broadcast this past Saturday, May 16 on several different TV stations.

The event celebrated this year’s graduates at a time when commencement ceremonies have been cancelled in the United States in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the TV special featured contributions from various celebrities, JR unveiled his latest participatory art project.

The digital yearbook was developed by the French contemporary artist in partnership with his global art project “Inside Out” and the XQ Institute.

High school graduates are invited to submit their personal portraits to participate in the collective project, which is described as “the largest yearbook, ever.”

Students have to use the Inside Out Graduate lens on Snapchat to take their photo and then upload it to the website, accompanied by a message for their fellow members of the High School Class of 2020.

This virtual yearbook is the second project that JR has revealed amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

The street artist created a public intervention in Paris for the cover of a special issue of TIME magazine devoted to the health crisis, which was released on April 27.

The artwork features a crosswalk on a Paris street as well as an image of an eye peering up in between the lines.

“The crosswalk is a beautiful thing that anybody worldwide can understand. Having an anonymous person looking through it with eyes of hope and a question and wonder of what is going on out there,” JR told TIME magazine.

“Depending on which situation you’re in right now, this image will talk to you differently. Depending on if you’re fully confined, if you have to go to work every day, if you have to go to the hospital every day.

“That’s what I wanted to create — something that speaks to all of us, depending on our own narrative,” he added.

In addition to contributing to the special TIME 100 issue, the French artist has pivoted the resources of his Paris studio to create a food distribution program called Action Refettorio.

The initiative, launched in collaboration with Italian chef Massimo Bottura, gathers food surpluses and distributes cooked meals with the aim of providing more than 5,000 meals a day to people in need.