Every Person is a Work of Modern Art | John Gribowich | TEDxYouth@SHC | Summary and Q&A

September 28, 2023
TEDx Talks
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Every Person is a Work of Modern Art | John Gribowich | TEDxYouth@SHC

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The speaker discusses how the pandemic has given many people the opportunity to discover or rediscover hidden talents, such as photography. He shares his personal experience of using his phone camera to capture moments during his morning runs and reflect upon each day of quarantine. He emphasizes that photography has not only influenced the way we view the world but also the way we perceive people. He highlights the importance of understanding that each person is a multi-faceted work of art, just like the paintings of famous artists like Monet and Picasso.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the pandemic provide an opportunity for people to discover hidden talents?

The speaker believes that the pandemic offered individuals the chance to explore new hobbies or rediscover talents they may have forgotten about. He gives the example of how he was able to reconnect with his passion for photography during the pandemic.

Q: Can you explain how the speaker rediscovered his talent for photography?

The speaker mentions that he used to study art and photography in school. During the pandemic, he would go for morning runs and take photos using his phone camera. Through this process, he was able to apply the skills he learned in art school and capture meaningful moments.

Q: How did photography influence the way we view the world?

According to the speaker, photography has completely changed the way we perceive everything, especially people. He argues that photography allows us to understand how to view different situations and individuals. He gives the example of using social media profiles or LinkedIn to get a snapshot of someone's identity before meeting them in person.

Q: What would the world be like without photography?

The speaker suggests that without photography, the world would rely solely on paintings and canvases. He points out the irony that if photography didn't exist, there would be no Modern Art. He explains that artists turned to abstract and creative expressions because photography made it easy to replicate realistic representations.

Q: How did the emergence of photography impact the art world?

The speaker explains that once photography became popular, artists no longer needed to focus on realistic representations. They faced a new challenge and opportunity to be more creative. This led to the rise of movements such as impressionism and cubism, which aimed to capture aspects of reality that a photograph could not.

Q: Can you discuss the significance of impressionism in relation to photography?

The speaker mentions that impressionism emerged as a response to the capabilities of photography. Artists like Claude Monet explored capturing different moments of the day in a single painting, highlighting the elements of morning, noon, and evening in one artwork. This was something that a photograph could not easily achieve.

Q: What did cubism reveal to us about people?

The speaker explains that cubism, introduced by artists like Pablo Picasso, revealed the multifaceted nature of human beings. He shares an example of a painting where a girl sees various aspects of herself, including youth, old age, likes, and dislikes, all depicted simultaneously. This challenges the idea of seeing people as one-dimensional and static.

Q: How does modern art offer a different perspective on engaging with people compared to photography?

The speaker suggests that modern art, with its abstract and creative representations, may offer a way to engage with people on a deeper level compared to photography. He argues that photography only provides a snapshot of a person's identity, whereas modern art allows us to view individuals as complex stories.

Q: What is the difference between perceiving people as snapshots through photography versus perceiving them as works of art?

The speaker believes that when we view people through photography, we tend to see them as one-dimensional representations or snapshots of how we want them to be. However, when people are seen as works of art, like in modern art, we have a better understanding of their complexities and nuances, just like a painting can convey multiple aspects of a person.

Q: What does the speaker propose in terms of how we should imagine each person?

The speaker proposes that it would be creatively interesting to imagine each person as a work of modern art. He suggests that we should move beyond seeing people as static images and instead appreciate their multifaceted nature, just like the paintings of famous artists.


The speaker highlights that the pandemic has allowed people to uncover hidden talents and interests, such as photography. He emphasizes the impact of photography on how we view the world and people, arguing that it has influenced our perception and understanding of situations. He urges the audience to consider the concept of each person as a work of modern art, challenging the idea of seeing individuals as mere snapshots or one-dimensional representations, and encouraging a deeper engagement with people's stories and complexities.

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