Racism and prejudice against minority groups is a serious problem in the United States.

According to a CNN from 2017, 98% of white and non-white people in the USA think prejudice is a very serious or somewhat serious issue, with 66% of nonwhites considering racism very serious alongside 39% of whites. CNN also reported that six in 10 Americans (61%) said racism against blacks is widespread in the United States in a Gallup in August 2016. And an overwhelming 88% of blacks say the country needs to keep making changes for blacks to have equal rights with whites. A small majority (53%) of whites agree with them, according to a Pew Research survey from last June.

Racism Hate Crimes has dramatically increased in the United States.

 According to the FBI, in 2015 law enforcement agencies reported 5,850 hate crimes across the country. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which uses surveys to compile crime rates across the country, 207,880 hate crimes occurred in 2015. Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/07/17/hate-crimes-up-america-10-largest-cities/776721002/ In 2016, there were 6,121 instances of hate crime in the United States, resulting in 7,615 victims of persecution. Source: https://www.statista.com/topics/4178/hate-crimes-in-the-united-states/

10 Million women a year are victims of domestic violence in the USA.

 Domestic violence is rampant in America and, while men are victims as well, it primarily happens to women. At the even more horrendous end of it, at least three women are murdered every day by their boyfriend or husband. According to the National Women's Law Center, in 2017 one in eight women in the U.S. lived in poverty, at a total of 16.9 million people. The numbers were even higher for single mothers with a little over one in three single mothers living in poverty. Source:https://www.bustle.com/p/7-statistics-about-womens-equality-in-america-that-show-the-fight-is-far-from-over-77336

Incarceration rates

The United States locks up more people, per capita, than any other nation. More than 2.3 million people are held in Local, federal and state prisons and jails. Every year, 626,000 people walk out of prison gates but people go to jail 10.6 million times a year. Source: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2018.html CNN reported in 2018, that minorities are still overrepresented in the prison population. African Americans comprise only about 12% of the total US population but represent 33% of the federal and state prison population. 

Opioid overdoses caused more than 42,000 deaths in 2016

More than any previous year on record, and 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids. Sources: https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. Source: https://www.nih.gov/research-training/medical-research-initiatives/heal-initiative/heal-initiative-research-plan


Over 44 million American adults have a mental health condition

Since the release of the first State of Mental Health in America report (2015), there has only been a slight decrease in the number of adults who have a mental health condition (from 18.19% to 18.07%) Rate of youth experiencing a mental health condition continues to rise. The rate of youth with Major Depressive Episode (MDE) increased from 11.93% to 12.63%. There was only a 1.5% decrease in the rate of youth with MDE who did receive treatment. Data showed that 62% of youth with MDE received no treatment. Source: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/state-mental-health-americaI


This year, 45,000 Americans will take their lives, and more than 70,000 will die from drug overdoses. Sources: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ and https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates. According to a recent large-scale survey from the health care provider Cigna, most Americans suffer from strong feelings of loneliness and a lack of significance in their relationships. Nearly half say they sometimes or always feel alone or “left out.” Thirteen percent of Americans say that zero people know them well. The survey, which charts social isolation using a common measure known as the U.C.L.A. Loneliness Scale, shows that loneliness is worse in each successive generation. Source: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8294451-cigna-us-loneliness-survey/docs/IndexReport_1524069371598-173525450.pdf

Whats love got to do with it?


Project Description

Newly arrived refugees in Vaxjo Sweden creating artworks at a public intervention.


The aim of the I Love You Institute is to facilitate a series of events that emphasizes connecting with each other through creative dialogue. We are action-oriented. We embrace the tension found within conflict and messiness of the world we live in. We will offer participants an opportunity to respond to our world through an act of love and connection. We will support the idea of self care as an act of resistance and for ourselves to be truly seen and heard through an art experience. “The world currently sits in an epoch of change, of division, of conflict. More than ever we need to say and hear I Love You,” Anne Labovitz. The intention will be to create a quiet space in the contemporary sociopolitical storm to connect one-on-one.

The I Love You Institute will undertake varied, yet connected experiences:

  • One-off events, performances, and interventions as invited by individuals, groups, and institutions (for example, art museums/art centers, libraries, hospitals, schools);
  • As an institute, to conduct small and/or large classes to teach the I Thou philosophy and an art curriculum based on the philosophy created by Labovitz in schools for all levels (with particular interest in teaching artists and students at the University level);
  • Networking experiences for those interested in how socially engaged art practices can be expressed through a variety of mediums and approaches.
  • Follow up work/engagements can be organized, if desired.


The genesis of the Institute came from the reciprocal connections and exchanges honed through artist interviews in 122 Conversations, Labovitz’s 2012-2019 project. The I Love You Institute is embedded in both short-term, one-off person-to-person interventions as well as long-term relationships with organizations. The foundation is a framework and process based on Martin Bruer’s I Thou philosophy of dialogue. Written in 1923, Buber’s I and Thou (Ich und Du, 1923) presents a philosophy of personal dialogue, in that it describes how personal dialogue can define the nature of reality. Buber’s major theme is that human existence may be defined by the way in which we engage in dialogue with each other and with the world. 


The process is open and dialogical. We can work with specific venues to construct the interventions. The artist will be on site, a site that can be altered but will constitute at least two seats and a common, shared table, Labovitz will engage the participant in dialogue. Active and engaged listening will be employed, and simple and straightforward questions will be asked. The idea is to create space for individual connection and creativity.


The Institute is sited in St Paul, Minnesota, but includes local, regional, national, and international contexts. As a nomadic initiative, the I Love You Institute can be set up in a variety of sites. Using established and new networks, the artist and producers will organize to host a number of events, performances, interventions, classes, and networking experiences. Each site will be developed and produced as a site-specific experience, working in collaboration with the hosting partners. An intentional process, the I Love You Institute will focus on building alliances rather than just partnerships.