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Letters To The President: A New Book Captures Citizens’ Political Pleas

Jon Eric Johnson
Artist Sheryl Oring has been gathering strangers' messages to the President for 12 years.

A woman dressed as a 1960s secretary sits in front of a rare vintage typewriter and asks people to engage in something even more rare – to share their unedited political opinions with a stranger. It’s all part of the “I Wish to Say” performance art project created by Sheryl Oring.

Oring wrote a new book, “Activating Democracy: The 'I Wish to Say' Project” (Intellect/2016), based on her twelve-year-running performance piece. She's giving a talk at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston Salem on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the McChesney Scott Dunn Auditorium.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Sheryl Oring about her work, her hopes for civil engagement, and how striking up a face-to-face conversation with a stranger continues to surprise her twelve years later. 

Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.