By Falyn Stempler | The Jersey Journal
When Cheryl Mack turned on the morning news one day last spring, she didn’t expect to see anything extraordinary.
But when a segment on JR, an anonymous French artist who created the “Inside Out Project: People’s Faces,” she was filled with inspiration. The project, which consists of photo collages of ordinary citizens’ faces displayed in public spaces, has expanded to 129 countries and features thousands of portraits.
“And when I saw the project Inside Out and when I saw what JR was doing internationally, I instantly thought: why not Bayonne?” said Mack, who owns the Bridge Art Gallery on Broadway.
“I just put my project management skills to work, and I contacted Inside Out, proposed the idea of doing Faces of Bayonne and they accepted it,” Mack said.
Mack enlisted local photographer Stephanie Petersen and got 200 Bayonne residents to sign up to have their portraits taken. The public art installation, dubbed “Faces of Bayonne,” took nine months to complete and is now affixed to a wall across from the Broadway Diner at Eighth Street.
Mack said she wanted the project to highlight everyday citizens and allow them to feel pride in their city.
“Often times when you recognize individuals it is for some achievement, but everyday citizens in Bayonne make it the special place that it is,” Mack said.
Inside Out Project paid for the printing of the wall-paper portraits that volunteers then painted on the wall. Mack says the installation will last only as long as the weather will permit. Mack’s husband Christopher, a graphic designer, also contributed to the project’s design and website.