When I show the portraits to anyone the first question is “Who is it?” I say the name and ask, “Do you know her?” The answer is usually no.
“Do You Know Her?” is a series of portraits celebrating women who have made significant contributions to our world.
The images and the corresponding biographies are intended to familiarize the public with these women’s many accomplishments and stories. Knowing those who have come before us can help us believe that our desires are possible.
Two contrasting emotions are at the heart of the project: frustration and admiration. I feel frustration in the 21st century’s bias against women, especially women of color, which is still widespread and with no end in sight. But my admiration for the women who have done remarkable things notwithstanding the obstacles in their path has sustained the project. Their journeys have often left me speechless, filling me with marvel and energy. The research and discovery of so many female voices from across the globe has been rewarding and I pay them homage by shining a small light on their lives through this project.
Mostly are individual portraits, but I also develop pairs and groups of figures, finding relationships between them and expressing those ties through formal means such as color, pattern, and composition. Sometimes merely placing one portrait next to the other can suggest a link which crosses disciplines, and time periods.
This project exists to share knowledge about female voices.
Taking the time to draw and paint these women has allowed me to gradually absorb the significance of their stories as I research them. Exhibitions and the website are an invitation to the public to establish their own personal connection with the scores of positive female role models that exist, but who often remain in the shadows.
The final version of the image is dependent on merging numerous layers of physical drawings in pencil, pen, or paint, and then further elaborating them digitally. Analog and digital media come together and the “one” is made of the “many.”
Why these women?
This is a collection, not an encyclopedia or comprehensive historical list. Some of the choices are personal, a teacher (Jane Wilson) or a famous artist (Louise Nevelson) who lived near me in New York. But most are a result of actively looking for people of different races, from different parts of the world who worked in different fields, but who all shared an inspiring story.
How are they made?
Drawing first, then painting on different layers of paper. After photographing them I experiment with colors blending and more drawing with a digital tablet in Photoshop. This blending of analog drawing with digital media allows me to make prints and installations.
How can I support the project?
There are many ways to support the project. Share the links on social media. Following the progress and process involved in making the portraits, spread the word. Suggest new people to include, it is always helpful to hear ideas (sign up…).