Beginning in 2002, Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July (known for her award-winning film Me and You and Everyone We Know) created the project Learning to Love You More in which the general public responded to 70 creative assignments given by the two artists over the span of seven years. Over 8,000 participants accepted and completed a simple but specific assignment (photograph, text, video, etc), which was then sent in and posted to their online website designed and managed by Yuri Ono. Some of these assignments included make a field guide to your yard, photograph a significant outfit, give advice to yourself in the past, draw a constellation from someone’s freckles, and make an encouraging banner. “Like a recipe, meditation practice, or familiar song, the prescriptive nature of these assignments was intended to guide people towards their own experience.” As well as the participant’s documentation being posted online, a selection of the most memorable submissions were presented in exhibitions, screenings, and radio broadcasts located all over the world. The collaborative public art project was also created into a book.
I find the participatory art project, Learning to Love You More, to be a refreshing take on how people around us think, act, and love. It is interesting how this project is a mixture between artists and non-artists of all ages, and I like that the website does not really distinguish between who does art as a profession and who is just participating in the assignments. The accumulation of assignments on the website are extremely engaging as I had to pretty much force myself to close the tab because I was spending way too much time going through each assignment. I found the submissions to be creative and heartwarming. I also thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity of the assignments, which left the result sort of open ended as some submissions were hilarious and oddly brilliant, while others were quite moving. Nonetheless, my overall experience of Learning to Love You More left me starry eyed and wishing for more.