Community Advice

by Susan on Friday, October 26, 2012


I interviewed a few shy of 100 people in Palo Alto for this project. I asked: What advice would you give your 8-year-old self? What advice would you give your 80-year-old self? Using the words of those I met, I designed ten different letterpress posters. Sometimes the poster text is verbatim from the interview; other times I conflated several people’s advice into one. In addition to hanging the works in the opening exhibition at the Palo Alto Art Center, these posters were installed along Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto for passersby to see.

I wanted to create this project because I think it’s easy to forget how wise we can be. We resist our internal wisdom because of fear, fatigue, inconvenience or any number of reasons. Also, I like to hear other people’s advice. It reminds me that we are different versions of each other trying to make our way through this life. And sometimes other people’s words magically express exactly what I’m thinking but can’t seem to pull together. Here in the Silicon Valley, I think this is particularly true as we hurl ourselves into fast-paced lives. We feel detached from one another and even to our selves. While the posters range from earnest declarations to funny observations, I think there is a deepness of experience present in these simple phrases. My hope is that these community-authored public service announcements will reflect back – even if momentarily – our inner brilliance and perhaps allow a brief space to gently listen to our own advice.

Community Advice was created for the Palo Alto Art Center’s inaugural grand opening exhibition Community Creates for the Fall of 2012.

Posters hand set with wood type by James Lang and printed at Horwinski Printing in Oakland, California.

Pitch me a an idea + Create a show in your community*

Here is how it works.

  1. Send an email to me somalley (at) gmail (dot) com about the poster(s) you will hang in your community. Answer the following questions: Where will you hang it/them? Why is this significant to you?
  2. I will send you the posters in the mail ($12 to cover postage and handling, which you can pay over pay pal or send me a check).
  3. You hang in public within two weeks of delivery, snap a photo and email to me
  4. Your image, location and first name will be posted on

*This offer available while supplies last





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