What is this project?
The Faces Of Chattanooga is a year- long grant I have been awarded from CreateHere, Chattanooga. The mission of The Faces of Chattanooga is to capture the portraits of nine Chattanooga residents and broadcast their stories, tragic and triumphant. My sister, Veronique Bergeron, will be writing these stories based on my encounters with each individual sitter. So far, this project has given me the opportunity to engage Brother Ron Fender, a Gregorian monk who washes the feet of the homeless at the Community Kitchen. I have also had the fortune of befriending Sandy Bell, a local celebrity and flower aficionado, as well as Kirk Wilder, a handsome young man who has struggled for four years with brain trauma resulting from a stab wound to the head. In the process of finishing these paintings, there have been tearful afternoons, many reasons to smile, and countless surprising, rich stories. And now there are three paintings to testify to Chattanooga's diversity and to the strength and humility of its residents.
This project is about starting conversations between seemingly disparate groups. For example, I will choose each sitter to represent a different aspect of Chattanooga demographically, and each portrait will be in discussion with the other eight aesthetically.
There have also been some additions to my original idea. First, I have decided to let each sitter name a non-profit that in Chattanooga that has been important in their lives. I plan on having a catalogue of the project, along with photographs, in-depth stories, and quotes printed. This catalogue will be for sale at the exhibition of the nine portraits. All the proceeds of this catalogue will then be donated to the nine organizations named by each sitter. In the end, artists, non-profits and residents will be united in sorting out the realities and common fictions of daily life in Chattanooga.
A second addition to this project comes from a bright and curious woman named Linda Duvoisin. She is a local filmmaker, and has decided that this project, with all of its intimate storytelling, would make an interesting documentary. Our hope is to share the stories of these sitters in multiple forms of art. She and her husband Dave, along with fellow filmmaker Bobby Stone have already begun this generous endeavor. They will be applying for the same grant I received last year in order to edit and produce the film. We would all like to see this happen, as this film would be available to libraries, schools and history centers throughout Chattanooga once completed.
My mission is honest portraiture. That can include work from writers, storytellers, musicians, and sculptors alike.
Here are some links to press this project has received:
Chattanooga Times Free Press (January 2, 2009)
On NPR: click here
(click on file, then hit tab that says play)
In the City Magazine, July 2008 ( page 20)