Published: Sept. 22, 2016
Artist Sheryl Oring, dressed in red white and blue, sits at a desk in front of her vintage typewriters.

For 12 years Sheryl Oring has served as America’s personal secretary, crisscrossing the country with a vintage typewriter and inviting thousands of Americans to sit at her pop-up desk and dictate a message to the next president of the United States.

This time, Oring (Jour'87) will bring her typewriter to CU Boulder's Trumbo Fountain on Sept 23, from noon to 2 p.m. The University Libraries and the departments of Art & Art History and Theatre & Dance sponsored this event in support of Theatre & Dance’s opening night performance of 44 Plays for 44 Presidents.

Oring uses carbon paper to make two copies: one to send to the White House and one to keep for her ever-growing collection of America’s hopes and dreams, which is now showcased in her new book, Activating Democracy: The 'I Wish To Say' Project, (University of Chicago Press, October 11, 2016). The book, which captures Oring’s travels from New York City’s Bryant Park to a laundromat on the Navajo Nation in Arizona to Los Angeles’ Skid Row, features photographs of Americans of all ages and walks of life alongside images of their manually typed messages to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (2016), President Barack Obama (2012 and 2008), and President George W. Bush (2004). The book also features essays by historians, artists and scholars on the role that art plays in advancing public discourse, free speech, civic participation and democracy.