A Reading in Transit, executed in 2002, 2004 and 2007, is a social and cultural project created to foster good reading habits, and to bring poetry and art to a diverse segment of society, but particularly to those with few resources and poor access to culture.
In order to reach the goal of the project, we chose public spaces to bring art and poetry to people in the city.
First, poems were displayed on the interior and exterior of 80 buses so that both riders and those on the street could experience them.
Later, we invited painters and poets to create images for a collaborative art exhibition. The original images were digitized in order to keep sizes consistent and also enable us to include the logo of the project at the top of the poster image, making it much like an advertising campaign. There was more flexibility in working with lighter, easier to transport materials as well.
We finally held the exhibition of 26 works in the public Hospitals of Santiago, in the waiting rooms, exam rooms, and hallways. This encouraged the act of reading in a different way, by bringing literature to the people where they are. Most people who use the public health system are from low income sectors of society, and they cannot afford to buy a book, or visit a library, not to mention an art exhibition.
In addition, this act also helped improve the environment for those suffering, and possibly aided in the healing process as health and art are closely related. By surrounding those in pain with beauty, we hope we improved their quality of life on some level during that time.
This aspect of the project was very successful, so we implemented it again the following year and had the opportunity to display this exhibition in 20 hospitals where 800,000 people, including medical staff and patients' relatives were able to experience it. We also created a mobile library (carts full of books for children between 2 – 12 years old) in a children's hospital, so mothers could read to their children while hospitalized. The exhibit spent three weeks in each hospital. At the end of the project the art was donated and remained in various participating institutions.
Unfortunately, the amount of money received for the project did not allow us to display the exhibition as a whole for longer than three months. This is the biggest obstacle for the project because we believe it is essential to be able to implement these measures on a permanent basis in order to deal with the problem of poor reading habits.
Overall, we were able to bring the project to a wide section of the population
in the metropolitan region. It is calculated that approximately 5,490,277.00 people were exposed to the project within one month. It was truly a wonderful experience for all involved.
Hope you enjoy the exhibition as much as we enjoyed bringing it to the people.
Carmen Gloria Berríos Creator and Director
Cecilia García General Producer
María Jose Rojas Art Producer and contributing artist
POems translated by Terri Carrion and Carmen Gloria Berríos