AS IS: An Urban Portrait Project
In a world where most human interaction is strained down to its digital pulp, this project asks the question “Do we really see each other anymore?” by bringing fine art onto the street. AS IS developed out of my desire to meet people where they are, to give my full attention to them there, and to leave the experience of being noticed as a gift for their taking.
I paint large-scale formal oil portraits of strangers going about their day. These paintings are several feet in length and take between forty to eighty hours to complete. The finished portraits are then installed in the public spots around the city where I first met each subject. Next to each painting I post a handwritten sign stating that the portrait is a gift for the person it depicts. The signs read "If this is you, this painting is yours to take." Unlike my commissioned work, these portraits are intended as unexpected presents for their subjects.
I believe that while the attention that we pay to each other requires very little of us, we don’t often give it away freely. I want to tell people that they are seen. It is my hope that in some small way this project will ignite conversation about the power and the gift of notice.