Portraits of Recovery
I was compelled to create this series after often passing by what I thought was a day-labor agency. Perhaps the one my father, as an immigrant, had used to find his first work in Canada. I looked at the people standing outside, waiting for the door to open, and was struck by their arresting and expressive faces.
Upon entering I discovered a facility that housed a membership for people suffering from and recovering from mental illness, many of whom were homeless. With my background as an art therapist, this felt like a good fit.
After obtaining permission, I brought in my clay, set up my stand and began sculpting subjects. Very shortly I had a list of people eager to sit for me. Thus began a mutually rewarding relationship between me and the membership of this group.
A certain dissonance that emerged in the work was intriguing to me. In contrast to the traditional heroic subject of a portrait bust, these individuals are struggling with marginalization and often homelessness.
With each piece, the viewer is confronted by a classically styled sculpture of a living person of no particular fame or distinction in the public realm. Yet, the humanity revealed in the portrait was equal to any “important” historical or contemporary figure.