SelfOthering Shift is a socially engaged art project developed and implemented by Francis Palazzolo. He offers a polite and uplifting human interface for free at the corner of 43rd Street and Broadway. His process of intimate conversation and collaborative portraiture with passersby enables social connectedness by reducing the gap between self and others. Being seen through the lens of one’s work, stories, facial features and relationships captures the content of their character. In the radiant glow of the Nasdaq, participants raise their visibility and recognition as they share their emotions and sensations with others.
Over the course of the past year Palazzolo tailored his idea to the Times Square Plaza Event Regulations, and put the project into practice. Pad in hand; supplies in a pouch, Palazzolo reaches out to visitors he does not know. Up front he explains the drawings are free. He engages passersby with open-frank talk to facilitate the making of a portrait. Standing face-to-face, talking elicits drawing; Palazzolo begins to capture the visitor.
His role is to shift visitors into collaborators. As he pictures their likeness, bits and pieces of their personal life and the significance of the location come into focus. As they get attuned to one another, Palazzolo asks the visitor to participate in the handiwork crafting their portrait. Stories, along with a pad of paper and drawing supplies go back and forth. Depending on the comfort of the visitor, participation includes making choices, filling-in, and/or leading the artwork.