Ambitious in its breadth and bold in its objective, Ten Thousand Ripples (TTR) brings into question the social and political uses of public space and how they can be used to plants seeds of peace and understanding. The idea for TTR was formed over five years ago, when artist Indira Johnson exhibited an installation of emerging Buddha sculptures at the Chicago Cultural Center. She noticed visitors contemplating the sculptures—many even told her that they felt a sense of peace. For Johnson, who had used the emerging Buddha image for over a decade as a symbol of peace and self-realization, this response resonated. She wondered what reaction the sculptures would provoke if they were located in public spaces, like storefronts or abandoned lots.
As community partnerships were solidified, Ten Thousand Ripples transitioned from centralized planning to community-based planning and engagement. Planning included research and conversations with both secular and faith-based leaders. This process took on different shapes per community, but across the board it included community forums, installation site recommendations, artistic programming ideas, resource leveraging, and implementation timelines.
Like the ripple effect that is created by throwing a stone in a pond, the reach and impact of the Ten Thousand Ripples project will have a lasting impact beyond the thousands of individuals who saw the Buddha sculptures, participated in arts or community-based programs, explored new ways to engage in their communities and came to new realizations of peace. Listen to artist and sculptor Indira Johnson speak about the inspiration for the Buddha heads and why she decided to only use the top portion of the sculpture.