Born in Los Angeles, Morgan O’Hara grew up in Japan. She eventually earned her Master’s Degree in Art from California State University at Los Angeles. She began working internationally in performance art festivals in 1989 all over the world, and her latest project has started right here in the US. Her latest endeavor, HANDWRITING THE CONSTITUTION, was motivated by the campaign and inauguration of Donald Trump. In the mission statement of the project, she writes:
“In January, as the inauguration of Donald Trump neared, I felt the need to protest. As a concerned artist, I had marched many times, but this moment seemed to call for something else. I wanted to stay clear of the campaign’s toxic excesses and take action silently. I began this project motivated by psychological necessity. I now see it as a social art practice. My hope is that it will become a movement of sorts, with sessions throughout the country. It is important for us to become more intensely aware of our rights as citizens so that if the current government tries to take them away, we will see what is happening in time to act.”
On January 5, when O’Hara first began her project, she slowly drew others to join her–first one friend, then more, and then strangers. More sessions have been held every month, and different people have been joining each one. O’Hara hopes that those who participate may discover new things about this document that is so pervasive in our lives, perhaps discovering a new passage that challenges them or a deeper connection to the founders and the country.
And the idea is spreading: To date, 44 sessions have been held across the US as well as in Taiwan, Germany, and Portugal. O’Hara has been invited to handwrite the Magna Carta in Dublin in the Christ Church Cathedral crypt next year. Sessions are being set up in Japan, England, Washington DC and Thailand, and Italy. The process is not limited to the US Constitution. Any document constructed to defend human rights will be used, the best document for each situation.
O’Hara says, “The cultural value I see in this is that it calms people down and focuses them on essentials. It is very grounding during this disturbing time in the world. The process is not partisan nor aggressive. It is quietly calming through focusing on essentials. I intend to keep it going for the next three years…at least. It has grown and now people are organizing handwriting sessions in Europe and Japan and Thailand as well as in the US. We all have a need to focus on documents that protect human rights, no matter our nationalities.”
To learn more, or to join a handwriting session, or to initiate a session in your town, please go to www.handwritingtheconstitution.com. Donations to support the project are welcome.
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