The Austin Chapter of the Awesome Foundation awarded its first grant to Bridget Quinn, an Austin-based “artist, organizer and explorer of the everyday landscape” to fund her labor of love, The Pay Phone Revival Project. With the mission of creating meaningful interactions between pedestrians and their everyday surroundings, Quinn commissioned teams of emerging artists to convert abandoned pay phone booths into temporary public art installations throughout Central and East Austin. An opening bike tour in April 2012 took urban explorers on a meandering trip to see all nine installations.
Quinn explained her inspiration for the project in an interview with Austinist.com:
"I have always loved pay phones. I began photographing them about 4 years ago for a school project. I was particularly interested in the way the photographs captured the sometimes awkward placement of payphones relative to their surroundings. Some of these photographs highlighted some pretty poignant and humorous expressions of our need to be connected to each other. As time progressed I began noticing more and more pay phone booths without phones in them. Many pay phone companies would de-install the phone and just leave the booth. For some reason these empty pay phone booths seemed invisible to everyone else... business owners wouldn't even be aware that there was an empty pay phone booth outside of their business. I tend to anthropomorphize objects, so I started to see them as sad little ghosts of an increasingly phased out technology. They looked like little empty frames, the phone booths needed a new function, a new reason to exist! Ideas flooded into me, so that's when I realized I needed to bring other artists and designers into the process of reclaiming and re-purposing these forgotten objects."
Funded by Austin (March, 2012)