Since launching the “I Wish to Say” project in 2004, artist Sheryl Oring has typed thousands of postcards to the President from dozens of campuses and other locations across the U.S. Her book, “Activating Democracy: The I Wish to Say Project,” will be published by Intellect Books in Fall 2016. Oring, an art professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, currently at work on a large-scale public art commission at the Tampa International Airport. Her community engaged works operate at the crossroads of art and activism and she firmly believes that students hold the key to social change.


After typing more than 2,500 postcards to the president from dozens of campuses and other locations around the country, I WISH TO SAY is making another round of campus visits in 2016-17 to engage students in discussions about politics and social change. For each 2-hour show, artist Sheryl Oring dresses in vintage 1960s secretary attire and sets up a makeshift public office on campus – complete with a manual typewriter – and invites students to dictate postcards to the next president. Each card is typed verbatim; originals may be exhibited on campus and then sent to the White House, while Oring keeps a carbon copy for her project archive. To date, Oring has presented 67 “I Wish to Say” performances at 57 venues across the country. In the 2016-17 election season she is highlighting student concerns through this show.


  • Lecture about Oring’s artworks
  • Book signing (“Activating Democracy: The I Wish to Say Project” due in September 2016 from Intellect Books)
  • Activating Democracy workshop (may be held after performance; students work with Oring to examine the contents of the collected messages and strategize ways of addressing key issues)
  • In Search of the Quintessential Question workshop (students work with Oring to identify a key question of concern for their own research and activist endeavors)
  • Small group discussion or studio visits with MFA students in art programs

Urgent”, “Past Due”, “Final Notice” are stamped on postcards typed from dictation of ordinary people and subsequently sent to the president. By listening to and transcribing people’s hopes, dreams, anger and pleas, Sheryl Oring’s “I Wish to Say” is a performative speaking truth to power.

Dread ScottArtist