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Collective art can unify

Last Thursday afternoon, the Agora was splashed with a bit of color thanks to Christian missionary Paul Wislotski. Wislotski had set up a white bed sheet pinned to a wooden frame encouraging students to be creative and draw on the canvas with pastel chalk.

“I’m currently on a mission from God to go to at least two universities in all 50 states to share Jesus,” Wislotski said, gesturing toward the bed sheet with colorful doodles all over it.

He explained that the creative effort put into producing the sheets of collective art brings people together and that is what his mission is all about.

Wislotski enthusiastically offered pastels to students approaching the nearly full sheet and exclaimed, “they love it, it’s a stress reliever! My guidelines are simple: no writing, no peace signs or yin yang, no crosses or rainbows or smiley faces. Not too big and don’t cover nobody’s.”

A bed sheet turned into art. Alex Ivanisevic

Wislotski has traveled to 31 states so far on his mission, and he has been producing collective art pieces for 22 years.

His motivation to continue traveling and spreading the idea of creating collective art pieces on college campuses comes from his observations of today’s generation. The generation many refer to as “millennials,” he calls the “90 ohs.”

"What I am seeing on campuses right now are depressed spirits, he said. "The right side of the brain is not getting any exercise, so if you belong to clubs or organizations on campus set up one or two of these every two to three weeks. Put some sheets out and have some fun, de-stress a little bit.”

Ultimately, Wislotski would love if the art sheets made were collected and sent overseas to people in need. He said it would be a generous gesture that displays some of America’s love and a bit of Americans’ imagination.

“Your generation will be the greatest in history because you’re reaching out with hope to people all over the world," he said. "It is a small piece of yourself, and how much does it cost? It’s a bed sheet and it doesn’t cost much. What it does is connects your campus and it could get your clubs global, and we need that now."

He also mentioned how it would be a brilliant idea to make it a family project to draw on a bed sheet and create a collective art piece at your next gathering; it is a way for your voice to be heard and it is something that could bring everyone together to focus on one thing. Something that, in Wislotski’s opinion, hasn’t been prominent since the radio was big.

Two eager students ask Wislotski about the art piece and grab a piece of chalk to add to the canvas. Alex Ivanisevic/Iowa State Daily

“Remember something about this: It is not about me. It is about this idea, he said. "You gotta make your generation the greatest because 200 or 300 years from now the art pieces are still going to be there, and those people are going to point to it and say, 'This is why the 90 ohs were the greatest, look what they did.'"

Wislotski encourages every student involved in a club, organization or in the greek community to take on this idea and make the trend spread like “wildfire.”   

He believes these pieces of collective art will send the message that America is still the land of hope.

“You’re working together and we gotta have you guys unite together creatively. You guys gotta be the moment makers!" Wislotski said. "If you’re not the moment makers, someone else is gonna make them. I want to see your generation make the moments, not just be a part of them."

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