Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire

Artist Statement
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

Smoke has a distinct connotation in our culture with a long history of smoke and incendiary devices utilized to intimidate and silence voices, or utilized to increase confusion or to cover up a situation. Smoke is a very powerful tool because of an immediate visceral effect on anyone who sees it.

With this project, I want to channel this effect to a different end. I want to create a large amount of smoke not to incite or direct conflict, but in order to attract attention to facilitate constructive and cooperative dialog. In conjunction with the 2017 Annual Youngstown Pride Fest, I will release a series of rainbow colored smoke bombs from an elevated location adjacent to the site. As the smoke rises, the overall presence and visibility of the event will be increased exponentially, while keeping the air below clear as to not disturb or dilute the message and spirit of the event.

Art is about dialog. It is not what the audience sees, but it is about how the audience reacts, and how those reactions interact. I look forward to the responses and conversations around this project. I am very grateful for the opportunity to explore the concept of utilizing a medium normally associated with confounding perceptions to instead gain positive traction and hopefully help achieve more clarity.

-Bill O’Rly

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