As an undergraduate art project at Clark University I presented a poem I had written about optimism on a can of soda. The can was designed to look like a brand called ‘optimism’. Additionally, I made 500 matching buttons and distributed them around campus.
4.8 x 2.5 in, 12 x 6.3 cm each
transfer type on aluminum
2 in, 5 cm
plastic, ink, steel
edition of 500
The response to the buttons I had created as student was astounding. I continued producing them after I graduated and moved to New York. From the original 500 I went on to create tens of thousands.
Collection of assorted optimism buttons
collection Somsara Rielly
Photograph by Somsara Rielly
In 2007 I proposed to MTA Arts for Transit, which oversees all the artwork in the New York City subway system, that we print ‘optimism’ on the reverse of Metrocards (the city’s transit pass). They said yes! Launched in 2009, the optimism Metrocard is one of the world’s largest yet quietest public art projects, serendipitously appearing in millions of people’s pockets and ultimately on the front page of The New York Times website.