If you had just a few words to tell the world what matters most to you, what would you say?
The opportunity to answer that question will take place next Saturday, June 8, when photographer Robert X. Fogarty visits Newburyport.
With the help of dry-erase markers and volunteers, participants in Dear World/Dear Newburyport will write their messages somewhere on their skin — arms, necks, backs and even faces are popular choices. Fogarty will take their portraits during two events, one at Chococoa Baking Co. from 1 to 3:30 p.m. and the other in the Tannery Atrium from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The portraits will be compiled into an exhibit and video presentation planned for Saturday, June 15, at City Hall. Select images will also be displayed this summer in storefronts at the Tannery Marketplace and around town, said Julie McConchie, a member of The Actors Studio board of directors and program chairwoman for Dear World/Dear Newburyport.
McConchie said she pitched the idea of bringing Fogarty here last year when The Actors Studio started planning a photo salon series, “Art Changes Everything,” which featured four, once-a-month presentations by noted photographers earlier this year.
Fogarty started Dear World, which he describes on his website as “part business/art project/social experiment,” as a love letter to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and has since expanded it throughout the world. He has taken pictures of thousands of people, from ordinary citizens to survivors of disasters to celebrities including Edward Norton, Susan Sarandon and Seal.
McConchie met Fogarty when she went to New Orleans last June for the Global Events Partners Summit, where he photographed attendees and then later showed the images during a reception.
Helping each other with messages and waiting to be photographed provided a unique bonding experience, McConchie said.
“You’re in line with these strangers, and it facilitates these beautiful conversations,” she said. “It engenders a really beautiful connection.”