With mere days until TEDxNashville 2017, we are growing more and more excited for the incredible array of speakers! The TEDxNashville Blog staff was thrilled to get a peek behind the curtain to learn more about art consultant and curator Éva Boros and her first TED talk.

Boros is the co-founder of Nashville Walls Project. She also wrote and produced the documentary film Saving Banksy about the internationally known graffiti artist. As a longtime TED fan, Boros looks forward to her time onstage almost as much as we do. “Sometimes I forgo socializing on the weekends and instead spend my time watching TED Talks,” she said.

Seems fine to us. More than normal, actually…

We asked her what she was doing when she found out she had been selected to present at TEDxNashville 2017.

“I was sitting on the couch with my dog, Monkey. It was around midnight when I heard my phone go off. An email from the program director, Leslie, inviting me to participate on the TED stage. In my excitement I reread her email twice and then I kind of just paused and thought…oh no.”

Nerves aside, her chosen topic was clear: “Fighting for public art is how I help my community redefine public space,” she told us, and so her talk “Enough with the Billboards—Reclaiming Our Public Spaces” was born. She hopes to help the TED audience and global community “actively and confidently engage in art.”

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Examples of “wall art” in the feature and above courtesy of the Nashville Walls Project page on Facebook.

When we spoke to Boros, we didn’t ask where she was from—and good thing! “I’m one of those people that freaks out when asked,” she said. Her birth certificate is in three different languages (German, Hungarian, and English), so we weren’t surprised when she told us that she is most at home when traveling. She spent her childhood in Hungary, and after leaving looked for anything that reminded her of home. “The only similarity I found between the United States and Eastern Europe,” she said, “was the presence of graffiti. It became the glue for visual familiarity. Anytime I go to a new country, or city, the first thing I look for is the graffiti.”

Although Boros doesn’t live in Nashville, she still has a slew of favorite places since she works here so often. She immediately suggests the murals of the Nashville Walls Project and recommends 5th avenue for galleries. Other favorites include Five Points in East Nashville for great food and street art, Frothy Monkey, Third Man Records, and Bar Sovereign. The Parthenon in Centennial Park also always impresses her. But, “the best part about Nashville is the community,” she said. “Music City is a great place because of the people.”

We appreciate Éva for taking some time out of her day to talk with us. Please read on for some of our favorite responses:

What got you interested in speaking at TEDxNashville?

Oh, you know….the fact that it’s TED. As a longtime subscriber and fan, I have a lot of respect for the TED stage. Sometimes I forego socializing on the weekends and instead spend my time watching Ted Talks. So many amazing things have transpired on the TED stage. Elizabeth Pisani threw condoms into the audience while calling Pope Benedict and the Catholic church irrational…need I say more?

What TED Talks come to your mind the most? What were the most inspiring?

“The danger of a single story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie resonated with me on a very personal level. My birth certificate is in three different languages. German, because I was born in Germany; Hungarian, because I am a Hungarian citizen raised in Hungary, and English because I went to middle school in Columbus, OH and attended high school in Los Angeles. I began building my career in San Francisco, and I now work in Nashville.”

“A one-woman global village” by Sarah Jones, and “Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask where I’m local” by Taiye Selasi has also inspired me tremendously. These women have been integral in cultivating a personal sense of ownership over my identity. No matter how many times I listen, their words give me perspective, and I take pride in my cultural ambiguity.

Do you have any other favorite TED Talks that inspired you or that you would want to tell others about?

1. The power of introverts by Susan Cain
2. Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask where I’m local by Taiye Selasi
3. Are you human? By Ze Frank
4. Beats that defy boxes by Reggie Watts

Do you have any moments of inspiration that led you to choosing your career-path that you could share?

When I was growing up in Hungary, I lived with my grandparents in a small town two hours south of Budapest. To this day, it is one of those places where livestock rule the road, especially when entering or leaving the town. At that time, both of my parents were living in the States so my father would come every year to visit.

One year, he brought me a packet of creamy chicken-flavored Top Ramen. I was intrigued by it, and asked to try it for dinner. That night, my grandmother paid very close attention as he demonstrated its preparation. (Keep in mind, this was in 1994-before westernization.) The first bite I had of that creamy chicken Top Ramen was life-changing. It was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted, and my grandmother was thrilled because she didn’t have to slaughter a chicken every time I wanted chicken noodle soup.

From that point on – every year that my father returned home to visit – he had to bring more Ramen. It became a delicacy I ration out over a year because my father could only fit so much in his suitcase. I became the Scrooge of ramen. Eventually, when I turned 11, my parents decided it was time for me to join them in the United States. So, I made the journey and arrive in my typical Eastern European sweatsuit (I’m not even making this up). I was optimistic, excited, and ready to start my new American life, and then it was time to go to the grocery store. Everything seemed miraculous and new – all the way up until I found myself standing in the middle of a huge grocery aisle stacked with ramen.

Not just ramen, but shrimp flavored ramen, beef, pork, chicken next to the creamy chicken, spicy oriental, ramen in a cup, ramen noodle soup and on and on. I was so overwhelmed by ramen, I went into shock. My brain just could not compute. I freaked out, began hysterically crying, and had a very loud meltdown in the packaged food aisle at Kroger. Hysteria reigned for the better part of an hour.

That was a defining moment in my life. I still don’t feel like I have fully recovered from it, and I don’t expect I ever will. I became emotionally shut off because I could not deal with the overwhelming presence of “stuff.” I began dissociating from my environment because it was defined by something completely foreign to me: advertising and consumerism. My perception of reality had been defied and invalidated by an extreme environmental contrast I was intellectually unprepared for. The only similarity I found between the United States and Eastern Europe was the presence of graffiti. It became the glue for visual familiarity, and eventually, the subculture and artform I would observe and study closely. Anytime I go to a new country, or city, the first thing I look for is the graffiti.

My career-path continues to evolve, and everything I do in defining it is done independently of the pre established art world. My knowledge is built on experience that translates between private art dealers and collectors, artists and galleries, auction houses and museums. Fighting for public art is how I help my community redefine public space independently of subliminal ad targeting and commercialization. It is how I help my community actively and confidently engage in art. It is how a community of kids experience a welcoming and embracing public environment, and where local artists make more of a living by doing what they love. My career-path is activism born out of a need for human connection and a desire for patriotism in an ethical culture. It’s how I identify with society.