I had the privilege of participating in the 2020-21 Souls Shot project, which opened at the Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church on Friday night, November 5th.
Last April, when looking for some way I could volunteer as a portrait artist, I came across the Souls Shot website. The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of the problem of gun violence, which has been devastating, especially in the Philadelphia area.
“To create these portraits the artists participating in this project were randomly paired with the families and friends of victims, or, in some cases, artists already had personal connections with the victims. The artists set out to illuminate the lives of these victims. The varied approaches and mediums used by the artists are a fitting testament to the unique qualities of each of the souls portrayed.
We seek to focus on the lives that were lived before that split-second, unacceptable decision was made by the shooter,” explains Laura Madeline, the curator and director of the project.
I found the work to be very challenging. My hope was to portray Ryan Dillon as a joyful person who loved fun and family and dreamed of being a comic chef. The background of the piece is collaged food, and implanted within those images are words that describe Ryan. The view has to search for these words, which were used by family members to describe Ryan.
The wooden canvas was a new material for me, and gave me the ability to wrap images around the side of the canvas also.
The work displayed on Friday was profound, thought-provoking, and had so much impact on the people who viewed it. The presence of family members, viewing these works, created an atmosphere that could not be described. It was an honor to have my work alongside these 30 artists.