Excellence on Main Award

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Inside Out: Love Where you Live

Awardee: I Heart Yakima

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2018

City: Yakima

Inside Out is a global art project, founded by French artist JR, transforming messages of personal identity into works of art. I Heart Yakima, a nonprofit focused on community pride and engagement, decided to use the model as a means of making locals’ civic pride visible and enhancing the resident and tourist experience in downtown Yakima.

Working with photographer Sally Tonkin and the Downtown Association of Yakima, I Heart Yakima coordinated a large-scale temporary art installation in 2017. Eight photo shoots were hosted throughout June and July, attracting 167 proud Yakima residents to have their photos taken for the project. The images were then installed on an exterior wall of Ron’s Book & Binding, a downtown Yakima building owned by downtown board member Joe Mann.

The installation, which used 56 gallons of paste, totaled 2,600 square feet upon completion. The work was done by 23 volunteers, who contributed approximate 400 total hours of time. A ribbon cutting on September 12 drew a large crowd, and the project continued to build momentum through stories in local media and regular social media posts. The installation was removed on November 29, but the images live in perpetuity at www.iheartyakima.com/insideout.

The project achieved its goal of celebrating the people of Yakima and cultivate civic pride, while also activating an urban alleyway in the heart of downtown Yakima.

At the summer photo shoots, each participant was also asked to write a testimonial to their love of living in Yakima. Along with their images, their testimonies can be viewed online. One such testimony comes from 17-year-old Renee Diaz: “I’ve lived here my whole live. It’s my home, it’s who I am. And I love everything about it.” When asked why she participated in the Inside Out project, she added, “It shows our unique, beautiful, diverse community.”

Inside Out gets at the heart of Main Street: bringing people together to make greater, more diverse, and thriving places.