Anonymous Series, 2015 -
In 2015, not knowing what to paint, I came across a black and white photo from 1916, printed in a magazine. The photo was of a young woman, head tilted upward, engaging the viewer with a direct but subtle gaze; her eyes slightly open. Her face was broken down into dramatic yet soft lights and darks. Intrigued by her confrontation and the play of light on her face, I painted a portrait, in monochrome, by sculpting the face with paint rather than clay.
After the painting was complete, I was driven to make another. And another. And another. Since then, I’ve created around 30 different versions in a variety of scale and mediums. Some paintings are made from previous paintings and some are solely from memory. I titled the series Anonymous, as I did not know the identity of the woman and I observed as my own paintings took on a presence and life of their own, while all paying homage to the light, structure, and confrontation this one unknown face from a century ago.
Several years later I discovered the woman’s identity, and this resulted in a pause. Who was I to replicate, modify, and distort her image? What if someone did that to my face a century from now? Could she still be ‘anonymous’ in my portraits?
Over time, viewers have connected with different versions of the portraits, often bringing their own stories and backgrounds to the table. A sister, a long-lost relative, abuse from childhood, figures from the past or future, a sense of timelessness, haunting, peace…