‘Dear World’ promotes sharing voices through pictures

Dear World woman with message written on her skin

Sept. 22, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - "We aren't changing the world, but we take pictures of people who are." It is those words that Robert Fogarty uses when reminiscing about the business initiative/art project/social experiment - "Dear World" - he launched in 2009.

Fogarty, a journalism major who knew little of photography, stumbled upon entrepreneurship when he gathered together citizens of New Orleans to write love notes to their city; a city that had been ravaged by hurricanes, massive destruction and apathy. The letters, he explained to a hopeful crowd, wouldn't be written on paper, cards or posters, but rather on each person's own body.

The Louisiana-based project garnered mass media attention, thrusting Fogarty's idea onto a global stage. In the seven years since, it has morphed into a worldwide phenomenon, which has artistically captured people and pictures that represent everything from messages of individual hope and happiness to political controversy and social suffering.

Fogarty's "Dear World" team will visit Slippery Rock University Oct. 13 in an effort to celebrate its individuals and to share with the world their stories of "hope, struggle and of a brighter day.""We learned that you can never lose your voice, and over the years, I've looked into the eyes of thousands," said Fogarty. "They've shared their hopes and fears, their losses and joys with me, regardless of their religion, race or language."

The event, sponsored by the President's Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and the Slippery Rock Student Government Association, is free and open to the public. It will include photo shoots from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second floor of the Smith Student Center, followed by a keynote address from "Dear World" executive producer Jonah Evans at 7 p.m. in the Ballroom.

Participants will be assisted in writing the messages they intend to showcase on their skin. All project "contributors" are encouraged to share inspirations, dreams, backgrounds, victories and battles and to keep an open mind as they encounter each other's stories.

"These stories can be anything from surviving cancer to something your mom told you every day that has just stuck with you," said Lorraine Craven, director of first year and transfer student experiences. "It's about having your voice heard."

Craven believes that bringing the Dear World project to the University will help to foster unity and divergence on campus, while giving everyone the opportunity to experience a walk in someone else's shoes.

"We hope that every person will be willing to share their stories and that this event will really bring our campus together," said Craven.

"We are all members of the same community, but we each come from different walks of life. It is time for us to listen to each other more and to value one another's presence."

SRSGA President Logan Steigerwalt shared Craven's vision about the value of bringing such a campaign to the University.

"One of our biggest initiatives as a student government association is increasing inclusiveness and awareness, especially in terms of diversity," said Steigerwalt. "We thought that this program would be a phenomenal opportunity for students of different backgrounds to have the opportunity to share their unique voices while coming together as one."

Steigerwalt, a marketing major from Northampton, believes that Dear World fulfills all of the missions of the SRSGA and of the University he has come to know.

"We as students are all here for the same reason - to get an education," Steigerwalt said, "but how we all got here and what path we took is quite a different matter. Everyone has his or her own story. Dear World is our opportunity to showcase those journeys and learn about one another on a very personal level."

To learn more about Dear World, visit: http://dearworld.me/


MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 | mxz1016@sru.edu