Spreading Smiles, One Art Project at a Time

December 06, 2010

Smile Project

Airam Dato-on (Class of 2013), Bren Bataclan and Director of Multicultural Affairs Mahjabeen Rafiuddin

Suppose that you are walking down the street when you happen to spot this brightly colored painting sitting all alone and unattended on a park bench:

Smile Project

A note is attached saying that it is now yours to keep for free; however, there is a catch: you must “promise to smile at random people more often.”

This painting, and others like it, is part of the Smile Project—artist Bren Bataclan’s effort to generate cheer one canvas at a time. The project began in Boston with Bataclan leaving pieces of art in public spaces, such as city parks and train stations. He believed that this would expose people who do not typically go to galleries or museums to the arts and in the process spread smiles around the globe. Since its humble beginning, Bataclan’s vision has spread to various cities across the United States as well as to 30 countries worldwide.

Bataclan was born in the Philippines, where he was greatly influenced by the popular anime-style of art that emerged while he was growing up. He moved to the United States with his family when he was 12 years old and eventually went on to pursue a bachelors in design at UCLA and a masters in computer animation from the Ohio State University. Prior to painting full time, Bataclan had taught computer graphics and design at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

On November 10, Bataclan brought a smile to the Rollins campus at a discussion and art demonstration held in SunTrust Auditorium. The event began with a viewing of a short clip of Bataclan’s work from the documentary, Smile Boston Project, by David Tamés. Following which Bataclan presented on his past work, including a series called "baja," which means flood in Tagalog. He also discussed his Filipino heritage,  explaining that “The Filipino culture is a melting pot of everything and anything. It may look like chaos but it is actually nice and neat.”

Bataclan’s visit was sponsored by the Filipino Student Association (FSA) and The Creatives, Rollins’ very own digital art collective, as well as the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).

 “[Bataclan] has inspired me, and I wanted to share this experience with the Rollins community. After the event, I received several comments from people saying that their creative juices started flowing again. Some even started drawing their own smiling characters,” said Airam Dato-on (Class of 2013), organizer of the event and president of FSA and The Creatives.

For more information about FSA, please contact Rachel Luce, assistant director of multicultural affairs, at rluce@rollins.edu.

For more information about The Smile Project, please visit bataclan.com.

By Anna Montoya (Class of 2010)

Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
For more information, contact news@rollins.edu.

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