About a year ago, I was contemplating beginning a project focused on gratitude.
At age 35, as a practicing Artist, I have many people to be grateful for- who create space in which I am able to create. I decided the best way for me, as a painter, to truly say ‘Thank you’ was to create a portrait of some of these people… 35 to be exact, as this was to be a birth year project.
The idea of painting so many portraits in a year seemed daunting, even more challenging, painting 35 portraits of Artists who inspire and influence me. This seemed like a pretty impossible goal, given all of the other hats I wear in my life, but I decided, at the very least, I would try.
As I sat down to compose the list, I created some parameters to follow: Each Artist had to be within range for me to photograph them, I couldn’t have painted them before (I know a lot of awesome Artists I have painted, by the way), and each portrait would be 20″ x 20″ I was left with more than 35 Artists, but after narrowing down who I would ask, I took a deep breath and began what has been the most exhausting and exhilarating project of my life. The asking, the photographing, the painting, the revealing… all on repeat…all overlapping, given the time constraint. I was invited into many spaces, and had some of the most inspiring dialogues about ‘why’ one would choose to make Art… and my gratitude doubled and tripled.
With each of these Artists I recognize an honesty in their approach to making- what I see of them in their work I connect with as another maker, with a hope to do the same. The list is a personal one, covering the scope of Artists who are the fabric of my life. For each I can point to at least one or two moments, but often many more, that I felt personally, positively affected by what they have done.
Nearing the close of the series, finishing the last few works, I have found there is more than gratitude in this project. It is highlighting the thread connecting us all; a true marker of a community. The thread reaches far beyond this year long project, but the witnessing I have done this year is a beautiful start.
My Portrait of an Artist series will be on exhibit in the George Morrison Gallery at the Duluth Art Institute October 15, 2015- January 22nd, 2016. A paired exhibition featuring work of the Artists in the portraits will run (and open) concurrently in the adjoining John Steffl Gallery. If that isn’t exciting in its own right, there is also a book of the series in the works, in which I was fortunate to receive a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, which funds the finalizing of the series as well as the run up to the publication of the book. I am launching a Kickstarter to help pay for a portion of the printing costs, which will be published through the local awesome publisher, Holy Cow! Press.
Unbelievable! Awesome!! I truly cannot believe that I am so fortunate to even consider it.
So here it is! Check out the video if you are interested in learning more about being part of the project. I am humbled and honored you are interested enough to have made it through my rambling.