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The Smith Gallery hosts visiting artist Sheryl Oring Sept. 29

By University Communications

BOONE—Sheryl Oring brings her “I Wish to Say Project” to Appalachian State University on Sept. 29 as part of the Smith Gallery’s visiting artist series.

View larger imageArtist Sheryl Oring with the collection of vintage typewriters she uses during performances of “I Wish to Say.” Photo by Jon Eric JohnsonView larger imageYoung woman considering her message to a presidential candidate during a performance of “I Wish to Say” in Bryant Park, New York, in April 2016. Photo by Christian Carter-RossView larger imageOring, right, dressed in vintage secretarial garb, walks through Manhattan, NY during a performance of “I Wish to Say,” April 2016. Photo by Christian Carter-Ross

Oring, an assistant professor of art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will present “I Wish to Say” from noon – 2 p.m. in the Plemmons Student Union Solarium. Then, in a lecture at 7 p.m. in the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts Lecture Hall, she’ll discuss the “I Wish to Say Project” and her work. The lecture is titled “Activating Democracy: The I Wish to Say Project.” Both events are free and open to the public and are designed to directly engage the audience through performance, play and participation.

In an era of instant news and smartphones, “I Wish to Say” relies on another era’s technology to encourage citizens to express themselves on the U.S. presidential election. Dressed as a 1950s era secretary, Oring uses a vintage manual typewriter to take down post cards to the presidential candidates as dictated by passersby. Participants are responsible for mailing the cards at the post office.

“The human presence has a huge effect on people and has made this project so successful,” said Oring. “It has had this impact because of the prevalence of social media. People just aren’t talking to each other so much anymore. Ask my students. They’d rather text than talk. So talking and listening become even more powerful.”

“I Wish to Say” began in 2004 with a commission from The First Amendment Project in Oakland, California. Since that time, Oring has presented “I Wish to Say” in over 60 venues nationwide and mailed more than 2,200 postcards to President Bush, President Obama and the current presidential candidates.

Oring’s recent projects include “Travel Desk,” a public art commission at the San Diego International Airport, and “Maueramt,” a performance and exhibition presented in Berlin on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Oring divides her time between Greensboro, New York and Berlin. Her latest book “Activating Democracy: The I Wish to Say Project” will be released in October by Intellect Books. For more information about the artist and her upcoming exhibitions and performances visit

About the Smith Gallery

Located in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts on Appalachian’s campus, the Smith Gallery provides opportunities for direct engagement with contemporary works of art and design. The gallery presents original and traveling exhibitions, features works by faculty and students and enriches its programmatic offerings through collaborative projects. The gallery actively involves Appalachian students in its exhibitions and programming by serving as a site for honing curatorial, presentation and installation abilities. Exhibitions are free of charge and open to the public during the Schaefer Center’s operating hours.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.