Like everyone in the world, I was struggling to grasp our situation in the spring of 2020. I wanted a place to focus my nervous energy. I wanted to help in some way. I decided on an ambitious project – painting 100 portraits in 100 days to raise money for WFBH’s Covid-19 Fund. It became the 100 Faces of Winston-Salem Project.
First of all, I needed 100 subjects. I didn’t just want to paint my friends. I wanted to get to know more people in my community and check-in with small business owners, health care workers, and people who were doing tough jobs during Covid. I started with a few subjects that I wanted to know more about – the friendly barista at Camino, the president of Old Salem and his partner Johnny. From there, I started asking the community to nominate who I would paint next. Who did they think deserved a little spotlight?
In this project, I was freed from my usual business structure and didn’t have to think about painting to sell. The conversations with portrait subjects were sometimes difficult. The pandemic effected their jobs, family life, and mental state, but also knit us all together as a community. Many times subjects teared up with the honor of being singled out by others. People told me that they never thought anyone would want to paint their portrait. The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) held a show of all 100 portraits from September 2020 – January 2021. The fact that the subjects and their families could go see their image in “a real museum” was so exciting. It felt good to give recognition to those who are so often overlooked.
I used Instagram to post the process, the interviews, and the portraits. I partnered with Wake Forest Baptist Hospital to raise money on the front end as people made donations to nominate who I should paint, and on the back end as people bought and gifted the paintings. 100% of the money collected went to WFBH’s Covid-19 Fund. So far the project has raised over $24,000 and the remaining pieces are still being sold. If you would like to buy or gift one of these pieces, I can walk you through the $200 donation process.