Why Strangers?

What heroic stories do complete strangers carry with them? What extraordinary experiences

pass us by, leaving no trace? What inspirational outlooks on life, love, and death do people,

whom we know nothing about, carry with them? What poetic words do strangers speak when

engaged in conversation?

How does listening shape our respect and empathy for humankind? How can we make

meaningful connections in our community through the act of listening?

Listening, truly listening, is a form of admiration, the highest form of compassion and respect.

What power comes with a good listen? Does it empower the storyteller, or maybe the person

listening benefits more? We live among people who have experienced unthinkable events.

Strangers pass us by, holding hopes and desires, passions and obstacles; their stories hold the

power to inspire greatness.

What if we just took the time to listen, listen with our full attention?

I believe that by listening, we can acquire insight into the human experience. We can form

relationships, connections, engage in meaningful conversations that express our identities and

explore deep rooted questions and answers.

Why strangers? Today, in the media age we live in, of movement, of instant gratification, what

does it mean to listen? What does it mean to form connections with one another?

This installation explores these very questions.

We are instantly connected through social media. Yet, we feel isolated from the people we

believe are our friends and families. We know more, don’t we? After all, we are able to explore

the curated lives they provide us, their truth. Social media has taken precedence over

conversation, the act of truly listening has changed. We see and read what others want us to

believe is their reality. Why strangers?

We spend time looking at, and communicating through, a digital, reflective screen. We type,

skype, tweet; we document the things we feel are important: a hamburger, a video, an object

of desire or pride. Meanwhile, the world around us is living and breathing. The world, ironically

reflected slightly off of the shiny device we hold in our hands, hold so dear, longing to feel

connected to those we respect.

Why strangers?

Has this become the model, our perception, of the human experience?

Looking someone in the eye as they tell their story, imagining yourself in the other person’s shoes,

becoming the main character, as they discover love, experience loss, face an obstacle or begin

to understand other life lessons. Interactions, being actively involved, asking questions,

uncovering more of the story, and making connections to our own story. We can again begin a

journey to discovery as we start to truly understand the strangers that walk among us.

-Heidi Hernandez