2011 TED Prize Winner: Guerrilla Artist JR

TED just announced the recipient of their seventh annual $100,000 TED Prize, and it's an unexpected choice: JR (self-portrait above). He's a somewhat anonymous 27-year-old Parisian street artist who's made a name by pasting photographs in some of the poorest areas of the world.

JR's selection is a bit of a departure from some previous, high-profile winners such as Jamie Oliver, Bono, and Bill Clinton. 

TED says about JR:

JR exhibits his photographs in the biggest art gallery on the planet. His work is presented freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not museum visitors. His work mixes Art and Action; it talks about commitment, freedom, identity and limit.
JR creates pervasive art that spreads uninvited on buildings of Parisian slums, on walls in the Middle East, on broken bridges in Africa or in favelas in Brazil. People in the exhibit communities, those who often live with the bare minimum, discover something absolutely unnecessary but utterly wonderful. And they don’t just see it, they make it. Elderly women become models for a day; kids turn into artists for a week. In this art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators.

The New York Times says JR "gives slums a face." You know what, they're right. Check out his "Women in Heroes" series in Kenya, Phnonm Penh, and Rio. The word 'stunning' doesn't come close to doing it justice:

Hats off to TED for JR's selection. It'll be interesting to see what his famous TED wish will be (TED Prize winners are invited to make one "wish" that will change the world. TED gives the winner $100,000 and helps honorees raise money to make their wishes come true.)

For more on JR check out TEDPrize.org

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