Poverty has affected me profoundly both as a child living in poverty and as an adult working with children living in poverty. My paintings in Perspectives of Poverty reflect the lives of children who are part of this setting.
Growing up in and teaching in an environment of poverty made me very aware of the ways society views those living in poverty while also giving me a deep understanding of poverty, specifically from a child’s perception. I hope to convey the culture of poverty with integrity through my paintings. Rather than painting images that stir a sense of pity toward or loathsomeness of this group, I want to show the people as fellow human beings who are living in this culture. My experience with poverty is rooted in my own childhood and observed in the lives of the children I teach. Children also create an immediate humanistic connection. As a result, I have chosen to paint the lives of children—students from my own classroom, people I have grown to know in the community where I work, and my own memories of childhood poverty.
Most often, I photograph the children in action, living life in their own environment. While I want to keep the paintings honest with regards to the culture, I also don’t want to create a documentary. I want to bridge the disconnect in understanding, so I paint expressively and with saturated color. After choosing a photograph, I will experiment with value, pushing the boundaries between light and dark as a metaphor for the imbalance in regards to poverty within our society as well as emphasizing the innocence of childhood. As I lay out my palette, I think about primary colors in relation to childhood and also about saturated colors intensifying the emotion of the specific painting. The saturated reds in On the Streets heighten the intensity of the streets becoming this child’s floor and brick buildings becoming his walls. When applying the paint, I imagine that I am a child again, using large brush strokes and allowing myself to feel an emotional connection between the paint and the subject as if the paint and brush are my feelings spilling out of me all at once, as in Where Angels Sleep. I also think the expressiveness further emphasizes the child-like connotation within the paintings.
My paintings in Perspectives of Poverty are at once cathartic and purposeful for me. While I feel I am sharing intimate views of my life and the lives of these children about whom I care deeply, I also feel that I am giving a voice to their often misunderstood and misrepresented life.
These works are pending display at midtown center (a branch of the family and social justice department).