The need to connect with others begins when a baby gazes up at its mother. We need to know and be known, and to be remembered. Portraits, by depicting another human being, seize our imagination and compel viewing in a way no other genre can. The individual captured in a portrait is presented in a manner that compels us to ask, Who is this person? What is his/her place in the world? What is his/her spirit?
Although the portraits in this exhibition differ from each other materially—they are painted, drawn, or sculpted; they are made with canvas, board, paper, Mylar, oil, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, ink, charcoal, pastel, collage, print, fabric and thread, stone, plaster, resin, and video—they all ask, in a profound way, What is it to be human?
These artists reveal their sitters, and themselves, to the viewer, in a huge variety of ways. For instance, a portrait is not always about face. A number of artists use only a fragment of their subject’s physical being (a braid, a posture, a gesture) to embody their model’s totality. Others omit physical representation almost entirely. Can a person’s essence be portrayed without a face? How does an artist capture a lifetime of experience? What symbolism is embedded in the artwork that affords us insight into the life of the sitter… the artist… ourselves?