Global art project shows the faces of Santa Ana’s Sierra Preparatory Academy

Dozens of faces peer down from the 600 Building on the campus of Sierra Preparatory Academy in Santa Ana. Without saying a word, each tells a powerful story.

The giant photo portraits, featuring some of the academy’s students and staff, were printed out and pasted onto three of the school’s exterior walls on Oct. 24 as part of a global art project called Inside Out.

A student stands next to his printed image

In all, 84 black-and-white images, each measuring 3 feet by 5 feet, were produced on-site via the Inside Out Photobooth truck. Many of the subjects reveal subtle aspects of their personalities with expressions, gestures and simple props. Together, they say a lot about the culture and climate of their school.

“For Sierra, it was about being able to share our story,” Principal Elisa Younger said.

Created by French street artist and photographer JR, Inside Out builds temporary art installations in public spaces using oversized portraits of everyday people, who are encouraged to make their own visual statement.

Students at Sierra Preparatory Academy

According to the group’s website, more than 260,000 individuals have participated in 129 countries, including France, Germany, China and Israel. But the installation at Sierra Preparatory Academy, which serves grades six through eight, is said to be a first for California.

Officials said the opportunity came through Sierra Prep’s partnership with Turnaround Arts, which seeks to transform schools through the strategic use of the arts.

“There are so many wonderful things happening on our campus,” Principal Younger said. “This was just a wonderful opportunity to showcase the many faces of the Sierra story and highlight our school. It has been a positive, culture-building element for our entire campus.”

To see more photos from the project, visit the Santa Ana Unified School District’s Facebook page.