Joel Tauber: The Sharing Project

Smith Gallery at Appalachian State University, Fall 2017


The Sharing Project is a multimedia documentary installation by Winston-Salem based artist Joel Tauber, which grapples with questions of how and why we share in the context of family and political life. It begins with the seemingly simple task of Tauber teaching his young son Zeke to share. As Zeke and Joel struggle to understand what sharing means and how much they should share, experts in different fields offer their thoughts, creating more complexity and questions. In pursuit of answers, Zeke and Joel turn to the forgotten Socialist Jewish commune of Happyville (1905-1908) in South Carolina, hoping that some of the mysteries of sharing are buried in the traces of the utopian community.

By following Joel and Zeke on their quest, we too are asked to make sense of the issue: What does sharing mean, exactly? Are there different kinds of sharing? Are we ethically required to share as much as the Utopia Seekers? Or, is it OK to share a bit less than them? If it is OK to share a bit less than the Idealists, how do we figure out how much we should share – or when we should share? Can we find answers within any particular philosophical framework? What about within our biological and psychological makeups? What can our pedagogical, cultural, and political institutions teach us? Do they prioritize the value of sharing? If they do, why is there so much poverty in this very rich country? Why is there so much inequity?

In addition to curating and installing the exhibition, I also developed a family activity station,  a sharing themed library for the gallery, and a set of public programs. Working with the  Art Ed Program at App State we brought sharing themed art activities local schools. 


Artist Talk with Joel Tauber \ Tauber offered a public lecture about the project, his career, his approach to new media production, and the way that his Jewish cultural heritage informs the work he makes.

 Family  Playshops in the Gallery \ Led by Brooke Hofsess and students in the Art Education program at App State.  Morning and afternoon playshops for pre-school age children incorporated art making, games, and stories on the theme of sharing.

 Public Lecture by Les Leopold: Runaway Inequality \ Leopold spoke on his project and book Runaway Inequality, which examines how income and wealth disparity affect critical issues like war, climate change, and human rights. Leopold cofounded the Labor Institute (1976) and has written numerous books including, How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Financial Elites get away with siphoning off America's Wealth. He is currently helping to build a national economic educational train-the-trainer program with unions and community groups.

 Activism 101: Workshop \ Facilitated by Les Leopold, this nuts and bolts workshop provided an opportunity to learn more about developing successful grassroots campaigns for social and economic justice.

 The Really Free Market: Community Sculpture Distribution Event \ Event to celebrate the close of the exhibition with a shared meal and the redistribution of items collected for the making of a community sculpture. 



This exhibition and its programs were supported by a North Carolina Arts Council grant as well as the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the Art Department at Appalachian State University.