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Street signs and pixilated leaves: The art of Norm Magnusson

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The innocuous historical marker: It's meant to denote an incredible convergence of place and time, or at least incredible as voted in by Anytown council members. This house was built a long time ago. This street was named for someone. This spot meant something.

You may not glance twice at the usual placard. But if you pass by a Norm Magnusson placard, chances are they may stop you in your tracks. At least, the artist hopes so.

"On this site stood Ry Brauer, typical American teen, by the age of 18, he had witnessed over 30,000 murders on TV. Education Department, 2007."

Magnusson has worked for years as an artist engaged in political art, paintings and videos and instillations with a social message. But it's the signs that have spread his name across the Internet and into museums around the world. He spoke to me by phone from his home in Woodstock, NY.

Called the "I-75 Project," his goal is to place a placard at every rest stops that lines the I-75 highway in 2012. It's a 1,800-mile road that runs from the Canadian border to Florida. For now, the placards will be showing up in Lower Manhattan this spring.

When he first worked with politically charged art, he set about to persuade people of his own politically leanings. "But it needs to have more than just my liberal point of view to succeed. "My goal was to persuade.... The project shifted to I want people to consider.... I want to get people into the thought before they dismiss it."

In the past three years, he says, "that goal has become much more relevant. People have become much more entrenched in their emotional point of view"

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When he's not off getting political, Magnusson decorates nature:

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By Melissa Bell  | October 29, 2010; 4:41 PM ET
Categories:  Picture Shows  
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