A little over a year ago I saw an image of a 16 year old girl from Afghanistan in an old magazine. She was sitting on her bed having just been sexually assaulted by her next door neighbor, who also happened to be the chief of police. With little recourse available to her, or her family, the look on her face was one of hopelessness. I felt compelled to paint her portrait, and in doing so, I ended up straightening her spine and putting a bit of steel into her gaze.
I wanted her to claim the strength that I saw in her. I couldn't help but wonder, how do we move from victim to survivor, and, "Where do We find the Strength?" I wanted to show her the portrait.
As an artist and a therapist I am drawn to the places where art and healing intersect. As a portrait artist, I love trying to capture someone's essence. This important project is a huge stretch for me as a portrait artist. It is complex, challenging, subtle, uplifting, heart breaking and ultimately, inspiring and hopeful.
Through Portraits of Courage:
1. I interview, and then create 30 portraits of Survivors and their Advocates. Each participant is screened to be sure they are at a place in their healing to benefit from this project. They/you will be offering strength and courage to those who have yet to find their own.
2. We focus on their strength. It is not necessary for me to hear their story, and if a participant chooses to remain anonymous, the painting does not have to be identifiable. During a collaborative interview we discover where their strength resides, and then through photographs, decide on an image from which to work. Any narrative that goes with the artwork is also a collaboration. Please go to my website: www.pennyhoodart.com to read the collaborative text for each portrait.
3. The portraits are exhibited publicly to raise awareness, inspire, heal, and encourage a broader conversation about violence that offers us all a way forward. It is my hope that viewers get a sense of what "Recovery" looks like, and leave them pondering the question, "Where is my strength?" Resources of local help will be available. These are "Working" portraits!
4. A hands on training/workshop called "Transformational Portraits" is offered in conjunction with the exhibit. It focuses on compassion for self, and empathy toward the "other". This workshop has been enthusiasticlly received by teens, adults, and mental health providers. Please visit my website for more detail on what this training provides. www.pennyhoodart.com
What do your funds support?
1. Materials: such as frames, glass, and matting. Good framing is very important in honoring these images. Participation in this project is a stretch for some survivors, and a rare opportunity to see themselves through the lens of their strengths. The watercolor and photography is light sensitive and requires UV glass.
2. Prints: The artwork is digitally scanned. Each participant will receive an 8X10 print on French watercolor paper as a thank you. The original portraits will be part of the traveling exhibition.
3. Exhibitions: Travel, boxes, packing, time in the installation and deinstallation of exhibits.
4. Studio overhead: Art materials, heat, lights etc.
5. This is Public Art: The initial funding request will cover my out of pocket costs. I forecast a time frame for the portraits completion, and an exhibit of the entire collection by October of 2014. A stretch goal of $30,000 would help cover my time for the initial participant interviews, followups, and doing the artwork.
5. Transformational Portraits Workshops: Development, materials, and travel. Please see my website for further information on this workshop: pennyhoodart.com
6. Rewards: All your prints, postcards, and related postage and handling will be available upon successful funding of the project.
7. Kickstarter and Amazon fees of approx. 10%
How does a painting come together?
A brief narrative of the process of painting "Trust"
Colleague of the participant: "You captured his Spirit."
Viewer of current paintings: "The paintings are so healing, the space feels sacred."
Survivor/Advocate/Participant: "The interview was an amazing opportunity to share the passion of my work with someone who was very tuned in to my words. My work is not "ugly" it is heartfelt and breath-taking."
Advocate/Participant: "I am proud to be part if it. TELL EVERYONE."
Advocate/Participant: "I left our session feeling that I had been warmly listened to and appreciated. It was a gift."
Survivor/Participant: "The painting is beautiful, I am humbled but proud. Thank you."
Viewer: "There is such Grace in these..."
Where is your strength?
Equally important to your contribution is sharing this with your friends and list serves, please help put these, and 20 more portraits to work.
FIND A REWARD LEVEL THAT FITS YOU, OR YOUR ORGANIZATION, AND CLICK THE BUTTON!
Risks and challenges
I can't think of any risks to you!
This project is already underway. I have completed 10 of the 30 images, five more participants are waiting for final funding, and I am quite sure I will find more participants with your help. Once the project is fully funded I will have the images digitally scanned and be able to provide the existing participants with prints of their portraits. I will also have the prints made to send you your rewards. If there is a hang up in the printing I will let you know, but I work with someone I know and trust.
I have both curated and participated in large exhibitions, I have contacts in venues for possible exhibition space when the entire show is done, but again, I hope that you the donors will provide space for the work to be shown once it is complete. The time frame for completion is the one variable I cannot pinpoint. Each portrait takes time. Interviewing, discerning the theme for each portrait, collaborating with the participant, and then immersing myself in the relationship of the artmaking takes time. Optimistically it takes about two weeks to complete a portrait, but some are more challenging than others. It is my aim to have this project completed by October of 2014. I will be displaying the work in smaller venues as I go, but the end point would be a show of the completed 30 images, in conjunction with the Transformational Portraits workshop designed to accompany it. Each donor will be invited to the opening, and I will keep you updated as it unfolds. I have a website and blog that will keep you posted. www.pennyhoodart.com And if you have questions, just ask!
Telling your story in a safe way is an essential part of the healing process. I encourage people to find safe places with trained listeners to support you in doing just that.
Some national resources come to mind: The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network http://www.rainn.org/ They have a hotline 1-800-656-HOPE Another link is: http://www.malesurvivor.org/ Both of these links come recommended by: http://sapars.org/ our local Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services. All of these links will support you in this stage of your healing process. "The Courage to Heal" is a terrific book available through Amazon. The first step toward healing, is followed by the next one.......
And another list of resources from our local agency (Thank you Mandy!) :
Sponsor the "Transformational Portraits" Workshop. This could be at your venue. The workshop is designed to teach compassion for ourselves and empathy for another. It is part of what will create a culture that does not support violence. This is an experiential 6 hour workshop with CEU's available. Please visit my website pennyhoodart.com for more information. Travel, shipping costs, and some participant fees may be additional. Times are negotiated with the individual donors.
Sponsor a participant! Your generous gift will enable me to reach out to a survivor for participation in this project; you will also receive an 8X10 print of an image from the series. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, a screening process is required to protect participants. The original painting will become part of the traveling exhibit. Travel and additional expenses may apply. Contact me for further details.
Your office, agency, school, church or health facility can sponsor, or host, the entire exhibit or a portion of the images depending on space limitations. I will install and deinstall the exhibit. Shipping and travel expenses additional. Dates are dependent on your schedule and mine. I am actively seeking venues for the work.
This amount sponsors TWO participants OR
The original paintings at your venue PLUS the "Transformational Portraits" workshop! (see $500. reward above) Get the full experience of the original images by sponsoring the exhibit at your venue. Your office, agency, school, church or health facility can host the entire exhibit or a portion of the images depending on your space limitations. I will install and deinstall the show. Shipping and travel expenses additional, dates are dependent on your schedule and mine. I am actively seeking venues for the work.