Why Did 500 People Eat Dinner Together on an Empty Freeway?

Multidisciplinary artist Hunter Franks uses the urban landscape as his canvas.

Oct 12, 2016

(Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com) 

San Francisco-based artist Hunter Franks infuses humor, inspiration and art into urban landscapes to create playful interactions (anonymous and otherwise) with onlookers, locals, passersby and more. His public installations intervene with daily life and prompt onlookers to participate, interact, share and redefine society's concepts of social norms and communal settings.

His ‘500 Plates’ initiative, for example, brought together 500 residents from various neighborhoods in Ohio to sit down and have dinner all together on an empty freeway. As a way to connect all of the residents, they collected one household recipe from one person in each neighborhood and everybody who sat to eat enjoyed a recipe from a different neighborhood. Yet another initiative includes the ‘First Love Project,’ which publicly displayed a range of collected stories of people's first loves as well as a portrait. This particular project went on to garner offshoot versions in various places, including Germany, Philadelphia, Detroit, San Francisco and more.

Franks’ creative interventions using art as a platform to break down social barriers and create new perspectives of local neighborhoods, cities and community are a breakthrough tactic nowadays, when the world is seemingly buried neck deep in their smart phones. His displays have a simple way of creating big, welcome moments of whole-hearted creativity in the day-to-day grind.

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ELIANNA BAR-EL, CONTRIBUTOR
Elianna has a background in English literature and psychology and works as an editor and freelance wardrobe stylist. She writes on travel, fashion, food and inspiring people.