My personal interest goes to human life stories. I find people’s faces fascinating and intensely personal.
The following paintings I consider human life stories. I don’t always know the exact story behind the portraits, but you can imagine them and hopefully it will make the viewer stop and imagine what another person’s life may look like. Our world could use a little more empathy.
Ethiopian mother and child
After we visited an Ethiopian Orthodox church in Awassa, this woman and her child appeared by our van. Clearly she was very poor. After giving her some money, I asked her (or more gestured) if I could take a picture. She posed fore me with her child. I knew I had to paint a portrait of this beautiful couple then.
Native American Woman and the Rosebud Lakota woman
Native American women face the highest rates of sexual violence and physical assault of any group in the United States. According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, one out of three Native women will be raped in her lifetime, and three out of four will be physically assaulted. In most the cases, the assailants are non-Indian.
I painted these portraits to show the beauty and strength of Native American women. Who endure so much, yet whose plight gets so little attention in the United States.
Homeless on Broadway
When I walked on Broadway in Denver I saw this man asleep on the sidewalk. The other pedestrians walked passed him, never looking down or noticing him. I personally wouldn’t even sit down on the dirty sidewalk there, never mind lying down to go to sleep. Granted, he may have been drunk or high, but even then, what things happened in this man’s life to get to that point? Does he have kids, used to have a wife? Did he ever own a house with a comfortable bed? What went wrong?
Central American refugee boy
On his campaign trail Trump said the following: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,”
That made me think of earlier reports I read about large numbers of parent-less children crossing the U.S. border. Does he think they are the criminals and rapists or does he assume they are good people? Fact is they’re all people.
This portrait is of a central American boy, who got detained immediately upon crossing the U.S. border with his family. On the press photo his family is looking terrified at the border patrol officer. It’s easy to brand people with abstract terms like “illegal immigrant”, but they are people, many children, who took an enormous risk to take that journey. Let’s pretend what it would take for you to take a life-threatening escape with your children? How desperate would you need to be and how bad would your situation have to be? This boy’s face shows the face of just a boy, not an illegal or an immigrant or a “non-documented person”. Now go hug your own kids.
This painting is not a political stance on whether you are pro-Israel or not. It’s a protest against the dehumanization of people. The simplistic choosing a side, instead of trying to understand the complicated causes for conflict and the resulting reactions, many of which the regular people in those regions have little or no control over.
Once again I attempted to put a face to a faceless term. This girl is just a girl, who happened to be born and grow up in an area of constant turmoil. We need to learn to condemn the leaders, not the people.