Can you imagine coming up from the subway, or turning the corner of a bustling city street, when suddenly you notice a piano right there on the sidewalk in front of you? It might be a classic-looking upright piano, or it might be decorated fantastically by local artists from your community, but there it is, right there on the street for you to play.
This image is the one that artist Luke Jerram had in mind when he created “Play Me I’m Yours,” an artwork that has garnered international attention and toured cities across the globe. Jerram envisioned cities dotted with colorful pianos, not only to showcase the beauty of the classic instrument, but as a way to help the public engage with their urban environment. “Play Me I’m Yours” is meant to be playful, inspiring, and to unite strangers in ways that they never would have connected before. So far, the artwork has reached an estimated 5 million people worldwide; passersby who can admire the colorful, oddly placed pianos, friends who gather around to play together, and strangers who can appreciate the music and whimsy of a classical instrument being placed on a city street.
Jerram explains, ‘The idea for ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ came from visiting my local launderette. I saw the same people there each weekend and yet no one talked to one another. I suddenly realized that within a city, there must be hundreds of these invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence. Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space,” of his inspiration for the large-scale artwork. Cities are notorious for being fast-paced, energetic places, where people rarely get the opportunity to slow down and appreciate their surroundings. The colorful pianos of “Play Me I’m Yours” have the remarkable ability to intrigue passersby and allow them to slow down for a moment to enjoy something truly special.
Right now, “Play Me I’m Yours” is touring Boston, Massachusetts, where the 1000th piano of Jerram’s international artwork has been installed. Bostonians are happy to be making music in the streets at the dozens of piano locations, and the efforts of many local artists are what have brought the project to life there.
Keep a lookout for this pop-up piano festival where you live! Visit the Play Me I’m Yours official website to see where the project has traveled to, and to learn more!