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Thanksgiving Image

The Thanksgiving Image Project is an annual art commission designed to encourage the expression of gratitude by visually conveying the spirit of universal thanksgiving. We aim to put the focus back on "thanks" and provide imagery that plumbs a deeper level than turkeys and pilgrims.

Gratitude is a beneficial concept basic to all cultures and beliefs, and we believe in its power to transform lives in positive ways. With the Thanksgiving Image Project, we are using the creative power of art to provoke awareness of the things for which we are grateful and to unite people through the expression of gratitude.

Through a professional jury process, 25 artists are invited to submit proposals. From among four finalists, one artist is selected to create a work in response to a specific quotation about gratitude. The resulting image, along with the quotation and artist's statement, is printed on museum quality posters and cards which are given to museums, galleries and non-profit service organizations to use in their charitable activities. The image is also exhibited in the heart of downtown Austin, Texas, during November and December.

The Thanksgiving image benefits people's lives in direct and tangible ways, from the artists who give visual realization to a positive force, to the people who receive the cards and posters, and to the community at large who are brought together in contemplation of gratitude.

Nonprofit beneficiaries of the Thanksgiving Image Project have included:

Say Si
American Sunrise
Austin Smiles
Big Brothers/Big Sister
Elder Services
Foundation Communities
H.E.B. Grocer’s annual Thanksgiving Feast
Habitat for Humanity
Healthy Families San Angelo
Hospice Austin
Imagine Art, serving artists with disabilities
Marnie Paul Arts Center, serving physically challenged artists
Meals on Wheels
Settlement Home for Children
Sustainable Food Center
The ARC of the Capital Area
The Marbridge Foundation for the Cognitively Challenged
VSA Arts of Texas, serving artists with disabilities


2007 Thanksgiving Image - GratitudeX3

Artwork: GratitudeX3
The images you see on this triptych were created in Photoshop by San Antonio artist, James Cobb. These images are part of an art installation in San Antonio, Texas during the fall and winter of 2007-2008. The installation includes three large giclee prints measuring 5'x 3' each, a DVD of the images evolving and de-evolving, and a large 4 sided banner showing details of the triptych displayed on the Steel House Lofts watertower just south of downtown.

Artist’s Statement: My sense of gratitude is that it is a heartfelt acknowledgement of the experience of good and of understanding the true nature of all things. I was pleased to work focused on this sense of gratitude and consider that it was a unique opportunity to let my own feelings of thankfulness dictate the direction of a work.

Having conceived this series of images as a triptych allowed me to further think about concepts such as interconnectedness, juxtaposition, harmony, and parts relating to a whole, while attempting to demonstrate those concepts visually.

—James Cobb


2006 Thanksgiving Image

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2006 Thanksgiving Image - Thank You

Artwork: The Message
The image you see on the front of this card is by Austin artist Johnny Walker. It is taken from his art installation entitled The Message. This installation was installed downtown in Austin, Texas. The Message was commissioned by the Austin Fairchild Art Foundation as part of The Thanksgiving Image Project. The purpose of this annual project is to encourage the expression of gratitude by visually conveying the spirit of universal thanksgiving. Gratitude, a beneficial concept basic to all cultures, has the power to transform lives.

Gratitude: The Message was installed from Thanksgiving 2006 through mid-January 2007 as part of First Night Austin’s New Year’s Eve Celebration of the Arts. For making this project possible, special thanks go to: Merit Texas Properties, and First Night Austin 2007.

Artist’s Statement: The 34 images on the cover of this card come from a collection of over 700 images of gratitude in the artwork The Message. The images have been displayed as a book with all of its pages visible at once. The pages form a loose grid stretching for two city blocks.

Each of the 700 pages is filled with words and images from different sources. They have come from children, soldiers, friends, presidents, businessmen, customers, students, clergy; the list goes on. Each message expresses an individual thanks that gathered together illuminate the character of gratitude. These messages reveal our values and define us through our actions. They create a bittersweet portrait of the world that encapsulates both the hardship and struggle of life and the kindness and grace of those who reach out to help. While reading and rereading the letters, I came to the opinion, or rather understanding, that the smaller, more personal acts of gratitude are at least as important and meaningful as the larger ones – Perhaps because they are personal, and therefore seemingly more heartfelt and true. Someone’s time spent leading students on a fieldtrip through a boggy marsh is as worthy as one country’s assistance to another in a time of war.

~Johnny Walker


2006 Thanksgiving Image

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2005 Thanksgiving Image

Artwork: Reflecting Time
The image you see on the front of this card is by artist, Sally Weber. It is taken from her light installation entitled, Reflecting Time. This artwork projected video imagery and poetry onto two, sixty-five foot screens stretched the extent of the historic windows of the Scarbrough Building on Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas. Reflecting Time was commissioned by the Austin Fairchild Art Foundation in conjunction with First Night Austin 2006, to exemplify the universal qualities of Gratitude and Thanksgiving.

Artist's Statement:
—Time is a spiral of our own construction. We see it 'out there' but it exists as an internal guidance system monitoring our own flow from past to future. Similarly, our reflection on events and feelings of gratitude and joy in the past can directly influence our attitude and how we anticipate our own hopes for the future.
—Sally Weber

Reflecting Time was installed from Thanksgiving 2005 through mid-January 2006 as part of First Night Austin’s New Year’s Eve Celebration of the Arts. For making this project possible, special thanks go to: Littlefield & Scarbrough Buildings, Merit Texas Properties,, THE David Bermant Foundation, and First Night Austin 2006.


2005 Thanksgiving Image

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2004 Thanksgiving Images

These images are serigraphic prints in the “Prophecy of Peace” series by the late artist, Geoffrey Graham of Bastrop, Texas.  The artist’s goal was “to illustrate the clarity and transcendent vision which exists at the center of all peoples and their governments”. 

Merit Texas Properties and Austin Fairchild Art Foundation celebrate that vision by presenting six of these inspiring images as unique cards.  The prints in the “Prophecy of Peace” series are one of a limited edition of 35 sets.  Each print was originally hand drawn in intricate detail.  Taking over three years to create, this achievement was printed in the Netherlands on Rives BFK hand-torn paper. 

Austin Fairchild Art Foundation has framed and donated a set of these prints to the City of Austin, Texas, for permanent display in the City Hall. In honor of their simultaneous sesquicentennial celebrations, the Foundation also donated a set of these prints to the city of Dallas, Texas, where they are on permanent display in the City Hall, and to the city of Adelaide, Australia, as sister city to Austin and Dallas, where they hang in permanent display in the Convention Center.

2003 Thanksgiving Artist Johnny Walker

Johnny's multi-media installation for the 2003 Thanksgiving Image Project used the world's most plentiful element-water-and hundreds of the world's languages to express "thank you" in more than 1000 different ways. Fiery autumnal leaves provide a contrasting element for bearing the words of thanks. The artwork shows the words radiating out of a drop in a pool of water and superimposed on diaphanous leaves.

To learn more, please view the Austin American Statesman and The Good Life publication articles (Nov. 2003).

Johnny Walker: 1000 Ways to Say Thank You. 2003
Johnny Walker: 1000 Ways to Say Thank You. 2003

View the 2003 leaves video (mp4 format - 13.1mb)
View the 2003 water video (mp4 format - 8.6mb)

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The 2002 image

A 6' X 15' oil painting by Sydney Yeager, was inspiring while illuminated at night on the corner of Sixth and Congress in downtown Austin, Texas. The painting was included in a retrospective of Yeager's work which toured Texas in 2003. (see picture at top right)

Artist statement:
"As I developed this painting, I considered the times I feel true joy and realized that there is usually no specific cause. Instead, I am surprised, taken off guard, and overwhelmed by joy. I feel a sense of expansion, of billowing out, almost explosively, into the world. In that moment, I experience a loss of separateness and a sense of being a small part of a greater whole. My goal for this painting was to create a visual representation of these sensations.

"For Months I worked on the painting, accumulating layer upon layer, adjusting colors and shapes. At last the multitude of forms and colors coalesced into a whole at once varied and singular. As I had hoped, the two elements of the painting, the red band and the pale surroundings, had become interwoven, like the two elements of the quotation, joy and gratitude. As I worked, I realized that joy was there all the time, ready to be acknowledged, waiting to be perceived. I will always be grateful for being reminded of the continuous presence of joy and of gratitude's power to unify and nourish."

To learn more, please view the Austin Woman article (Nov. 2002).

Sydney Yeager: Joy is the Simplest form of Gratitude. 2002
Sydney Yeager: Joy is the Simplest form of Gratitude. 2002

In 2001

The first year, a digital image by artist, Tré Arenz, was designed to illustrate the quote, "Gratitude is the memory of the heart." The unveiling of the image closely followed 9/11, and it was well received. To date, it has been reproduced more than 26,000 times. (see picture at top right)

Artist statement:
"Gratitude. The act of being thankful. Joy. These were the feelings that directed my work on this project. In early August 2001, I began photographing - ultimately dozens of people. Some were friends, some acquaintances, some I did not know. Before taking their picture, I explained the nature of my investigation. We talked about family, friends, love. We shared common memories of giving and receiving. Then I asked them to think about what they were grateful for. Within the activity of talking and looking, each person went into themselves for a moment. Even the children paused. The resulting pictures capture that conversation - that exchange between us.

"After September 11, this project took on new meaning and direction. I kept making a drawing and finding and looking. And then in late September, I found the large heart rock, in the middle of a dry creek bed in Austin's greenbelt. It fit my hands perfectly. It fit the image perfectly.

"Within the ocean of sadness that has engulfed our world there is beauty. There is love. I am trying to acknowledge the WE - of our country and the world we all share. It's basic. It crosses boundaries. I am grateful for the opportunity to express it."

Our co-sponsor for this project is The Center for World Thanksgiving, which is dedicated to exploring the healing and uniting power of gratitude.

To purchase Thanksgiving Image cards, posters and t-shirts, please visit the AFAF Store.

Tré Arenz: Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart. 2001
Tré Arenz: Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart. 2001


 © 2003 Austin Fairchild Art Foundation. All rights reserved. AFAF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas.