PORTRAITS FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

 

From the moment we are born our molecules go into the atmosphere. If the atmosphere were to remain stable and we could see these molecules, we could - theoretically - get away from the planet and look down and see the patterns of our own movement on the surface of the planet.

 

Following this idea I interviewed people who told me their life stories in terms of geographic displacement patterns. We recorded everything onto maps and when the storytelling was completed, I traced the linear configurations off the maps onto heavy drawing paper. Using the principal city in the life of the person as axis, I register multiple maps over that particular point, letting the rest of the lines fall where they will.  I am interested in making one drawing which represents the life of one individual. Color and detail have been added at the sitter's request. The portrait is finished when the person recognizes and identifies his or her story rendered visible through drawing. Some of the Portraits have been done in a single sitting. Others have taken much longer. In one case, the person requested permission to do the color himself - Alaine Touraine, French sociologist.

 

Begun in 1984 and completed in 1998, extended once in 2007,  the series consists of 153 portraits.

 

Process: interview > storytelling > drawing on maps > tracing off maps.

Materials: graphite, colored pencil, inks on rolls of heavy drawing paper.

Several have been painted with acrylic paint on primed canvas.

Average dimensions: 91,5 x 182 centimeters; 3 x 6 feet.