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Art & Design: JR wins TED award

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The TED conference, a California based lecture series named after the tenets of technology, entertainment and design, announced last Tuesday that it planned to give its annual $100,000 prize for 2011 to an anonymous Parisian street artist who plasters colossal black and white photographs in the slums of the world.

Known only as J R, his large-scale guerrilla art steeped in humanity has shown up on roofs, walls and building facades in downtrodden neighborhoods in countries like Brazil, Cambodia and Kenya. Many times, his photographs printed on waterproof vinyl, double as new roofs for ramshackle houses. For most of his projects, JR uses the help of local volunteers, who become fellow artists with him.

Representing a shift in the zeitgeist, his graffiti raises pervasive questions and encourages onlookers to think of the larger implications of slums and shanty towns. His art, although illegal, is sending a philanthropic message worldwide and shows that graffiti continues to have a larger impact than just being a social nuisance.

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