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As part of the Year in Art Effort, every week Washington Project for The Arts and BYT will come together to give you a tidbit of the (some may say surprisingly?) colorful DC Art History. Be ready to be a cocktail party conversation star. This week:

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The majority of you know of Frank Warren’s PostSecret exhibition because it has been made into the PostSecret books. However, some of you might not know that it originated here in D.C., in 2005 with Washington Project for the Arts. It was shown with blown up postcards displaying the secret and the artwork done on the actual postcard that many anonymous authors completed.

Frank Warren started the process of PostSecret by printing 3,000 postcards and inviting people to share a secret with him, anonymously. The only conditions were that the secret had to be true, and it had to be one they never told anyone.

Warren passed out these postcards all over D.C., “I passed them all out on the streets of Washington DC—where better to solicit secrets? I received about 100 secrets mailed back to me anonymously. It was a surprise to see the original artwork on most of the postcards. It was an even greater surprise when the secrets kept coming.”

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The entire world has latched on to Warren’s project for a number of different reasons – or secrets for that matter. As the cliché goes, “Everyone has a secret”, but what it forgets to say is that they are dying to tell it.

The project was designed as a safe place for people to tell their secrets and not be judged. It was a way to get the poison out of their systems and so people could feel cleansed. Through this process Warren, himself, came to terms with a secret that he’d been keeping since he was a young child.

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“I was struggling to reconcile with a childhood secret. And like others I have heard from, I was able to find greater self-understanding and self-acceptance through a the stranger’s secret.”

The secrets that have been collected along the way since 2005 are now from all over the world, and number in an estimated range of 150,000 secrets with 1,000 secrets coming in weekly, 20 of those are posted on the PostSecret blog every Sunday.

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The majority of these secrets focus on main issues everyone deals with intimacy, trust, humor, desire and meaning. Warren does admit that one secret isn’t so rare, “the most common secret I get is not so lofty: ‘I pee in the shower.’ ”

But, the best part of this now world-wide experiment is the understanding that others get from reading someone else’s secret. “We all carry a secret,” states Warren, “that would break your heart if you just knew what it was. And if we could remember that there might be more understanding and peace in the world.”post secret 5

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Previously on Art History in DC:

Washington Project for the Arts is celebrating it’s 35th Birthday this Year. Learn more here: http://www.wpadc.org/

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