There are people that one may see only for a few fleeting moments a day, or once a month, or when the blood drive comes to town. We glance quickly at the grocer before tossing him a few coins for the morning paper, or share a smile with our usual barber. Their visages hint at their past and their present—a battle scar, a hijab, platinum blonde hair. Beyond hints of their lives, the tales of their journeys are obscured by their familiar wrinkles and warm greetings. These paintings provide a map to what is beyond everyday faces, and tells the stories of what these faces have seen.
As one of my subjects, DeNorval said when I interviewed him, "And I’m still here". Survival can be taken for granted. The survival stories in these portraits depict people I met, with compelling scenes from their lives. Characters and scenes from lives overlap in transparent layers, with punchy colors, storefronts and maps lending a graphic quality to the work.
In these paintings are the faces I have gotten to know, and the stories I have learned of where the people I painted have been and the things they have lived through. I have tried to paint through the subjects' eyes, by trying to see what they have seen.
My path in getting to know them to portray them in my art work is deeply emotional, just as the paths of my subjects from where they started, to where they have arrived today have been emotional too. My journey is to learn, to understand and to paint these stories.
While they are capsules of history, these portraits are also praises of the present, and the joy of surviving, thriving, and existing. The paintings tell histories, and also capture mementos from the present. These present conditions are born from history, and they have contributed to identities that reflect, embrace, or attempt to forget the pained past.
My work is an attempt to capture what they saw and heard and felt in the rich and complex lives they lived-all around the world, and finally in Brooklyn.