TEDxJacksonville: Art, a Powerful Conduit for Change

February 15, 2015 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In 2011, Chip Southworth was at the top of Jacksonville’s local art scene. But the city was experiencing heightened racial tensions because its City Council had once again failed to pass a Human Rights Ordinance. Taking to the streets at night as “Keith Haring’s Ghost,” Chip anonymously painted Keith Haring-inspired pieces on public utility boxes over a seven-month period. The street art sparked conversation and controversy, culminating with a raid on his home and police taking the artist into custody.

In his TEDxJacksonville talk, Southworth discusses his experience, as well as the groundswell of community support it evoked, and argues for a re-evaluation of the significance of street art in establishing a city’s identity. Don’t censor street art, he insists: “Let the art go. Let it be cutting edge, thought-provoking, emotional and make statements that will better our lives.”

Though much of his life has been spent as a graphic designer and critically acclaimed studio artist, it was Chip Southworth’s provocative street art that catapulted him to folk hero status in Northeast Florida just over three years ago. In the ensuing years, Chip’s artistic output has been prolific; his modern, large-scale works have been described as daunting, exciting and emotional.

photo credit: Dennis Ho

This talk comes from TEDxJacksonville's 2014 conference. Connect with TEDxJacksonville here.