Art project to use 10,000 portraits of Fox Cities people

An example of a project similar to 'We Are Here' on November 7, 2017 (Courtesy of Rob Neilson)

APPLETON (WLUK) -- An area artist is working to snap 10,000 portraits of people in the Fox Cities. The aim is to turn those portraits into a work of art for the new exhibition center.

As the saying goes, 'A picture is worth a 1,000 words.'

So what are 10,000 pictures worth? To Appleton artist and Lawrence University Professor Rob Neilson they're worth more than words can say.

"It's public art in the highest form, right? It's about the public, the images are the public," he told FOX 11 News.

Neilson is using 10,000 portraits of local people to create an artwork that will eventually hang in the Fox Cities Exhibition Center. He 's taken about 2,000 of the 10,000 needed so far.

"Then I put all those together and into ten larger portraits, each are made up of a thousand one inch by one inch portraits of members of the community," Neilson explained.

Of all the photos taken, Neilson told us he will choose ten that focus on the diversity of the community.

"To try to represent the Fox Cities," he said.

Neilson explained that he based 'We Are Here' off a sculpture he is also completing for the exhibition center called 'You Are Here.' The sculpture is an outline of Wisconsin with a push pin in the Fox Cities area.

"It's all about destination, the Fox Cities as a place of arrival, to visit," the artist explained.

Neilson told FOX 11 'We Are Here' is meant to give visitors an idea of what the Fox Cities is like as a community.

"What is the community? The community is the people, it's not the sidewalks and the buildings, it's the people," he said.

Neilson has been setting up photography sessions and taking pictures at area events. He told us it takes less than a minute to sit for a portrait and he said he is enjoying every minute.

"It's been crazy and wonderful, a joy to talk to people about art," Neilson told us and soon those people won't just be talking about art, they'll BE art.

The exhibition center is scheduled to open January 11-th.

You can find dates and times of the photo session on the 'We Are Here' website here.

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