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The Art Project

For a little over a decade, we’ve been raising children in an environment hostile to human development.

Beginning in the 1980s, we started systematically depriving children and adolescents of freedom, unsupervised play, responsibility, and opportunities for risk-taking, all of which promote competence, maturity, and mental health.

This change in childhood accelerated in the early 2010s when an already independence-deprived generation was lured into a new virtual universe that seemed safe to parents but was, in fact, more dangerous than the physical world.

As a result, adolescents are in a mental health crisis. Major depressive episodes among American teens have more than doubled since 2010. This needs to end now.

This is why we have teamed up with artist Dave Cicirelli to blanket New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and San Francisco with provocative images and installations that take the filters off the phone-based coming-of-age.

We hope that this art project will help crystallize the urgency of the youth mental health crisis and catalyze action to start a new chapter. Below you can browse through Dave’s brilliant artwork and the installations we have put up around the country.

There is hope – we can reverse this trend.

– Jon Haidt and Zach Rausch

YouTube Video

See the Art Project journey across the US, from New York to San Francisco.

Fox Interview Video

Dave and Jon discuss the risks of the phone-based childhood.

The Missing Childhood Milk Cartons

Description from the artist: 

Our ten-foot-tall sculpture is designed to look like it was plucked off a linoleum countertop in the early 1980s, echoing that moment when things first started to go wrong.

The iconic “missing children” milk carton symbolizes the origin of our current youth mental health epidemic. We hope our “missing childhood” milk carton acts as an origin moment as well. But of a different sort. One where we first act together to roll back the phone-based childhood, restore a play-based childhood, and reclaim life in the real world.

We hope this marks the moment we begin to Free The Anxious Generation.


The Guerilla Poster Campaign

Description from the artist:

New York, LA, San Francisco, and DC are about to be wrapped in an unfiltered look at phone-based childhood.

The scenes depicted in this image series are intended to strip away the digital sheen of social media and reframe it as a visceral and physical act. Provocative, but never profane, the series doesn’t shy away from the darkest corners of phone-based childhood and pulls its hidden dangers to the surface. 

Not just the subject matter, but the aesthetic itself is a commentary. Every image is overexposed and burnt in—as if it’s a copy of a copy. Subtly disturbing details, like undersized eyes or repeating mouths, create a discreetly unnatural relationship between viewer and audience. Every detail is aggressively analog, such as halftone patterns and physical tears, that remove the facade of perfection from this virtual world.

The series will be on billboards and wild postings throughout each city and is supplemented by sticker packs, pull tabs, and sidewalk stencils—all of which expand the work’s reach and create avenues of participation. 

There’s an open invitation to download the art and canvas your local community. Our hope is by crystalizing the urgency of the mental health crisis, we can catalyze action to restore life in the real world.

Validation By The Gram
Pack of Likes!
Surveillance Is Love
Missing Childhood

T.A.G. You’re It

The artwork is available for you to download. Canvas your own community to help Free The Anxious Generation. All artwork is sized and formatted for easy sharing on social media to recruit other concerned adults to join the movement.

Formatted for Feed Posts

Feed Posts (1080x1350)

Graphics formatted and ready to share as Instagram and Twitter posts.

Formatted for Stories

Stories (1080x1920)

Graphics formatted and ready to share as Instagram Stories.

About the Artist

Dave Cicirelli

Dave Cicirelli is a conceptual artist and author who focuses on experiential works in which audience interactions create meaning. 

Social media is a frequent subject of his work, starting with his Fakebook: A True Story Based on Actual Lies (2013). The prescient memoir documents his 2009 secret transformation of his established Facebook page into an absurdist work of fiction, and the real-world fallout of online fantasy. The story is a comedic exploration of Fake news, influencers, and catfishing before any had a name. 

His signature piece and namesake of his studio is “The Infinity Cube,” a visual concept that uses proprietary techniques to create kinetic and infinite landscapes within a confined space. It is currently the centerpiece for Peacock’s promotions of the 2024 Olympic Games. 

His interest in perception and behavior led him to Jonathan Haidt’s work, and ultimately to a friendship and a series of collaborations such as All Minus One: John Stuart Mill’s Ideas on Free Speech illustrated (2018).

Learn more: |

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