What does it mean to be an I Am More portrait subject?
I Am More is a public art and writing project to remind us that we are more than our mental illness, health diagnosis, physical disability or life situation. Regardless of the adversity we face, we all have skills, gifts, loves and hopes that are sometimes overshadowed. The project features portraits in pastel and colored pencil by Amy Kerr accompanied by essays by the subjects about all the ways they are more than their challenges.
You can learn more about the origins in this video.
The portrait begins with a one-on-one conversation either in person or remotely to share as much about your experiences as you are comfortable with. It’s a time to get to know each other and to answer any questions you have. It’s also a time for me to get to know your mannerisms and expressions so I have a better idea of who I’m drawing.
Capturing an image
Once we’re in agreement about moving forward it’s time to create a reference image to work from. My current technique is to let you, or someone you trust, make short videos with a smartphone of you in a place you love or doing something you enjoy. The purpose of the video is to allow me to freeze an image to work from; it will never be viewed as a video so sound doesn’t matter. No need to “do” anything. You can be creative with the setting, background, close-up or not, outfit, angles, try it all!
The written piece you contribute can be in any style of writing and any length. It’s whatever the words I am more mean to you. The piece will be edited for publication on the blog, with your approval. If funding becomes available for public display the piece will be shortened to one page, if necessary.
The I Am More portraits are done in either colored pencil or pastel on paper, depending on the amount of detail in the image. The process takes about three weeks, and ideally the written piece is worked on at the same time. When both pieces are complete they are published on my blog and can be shared. If the funding for a frame becomes available, the portrait will be added to the exhibit catalogue. When the portrait has been retired from exhibits it will be given to you.
Since 2018 there have been over thirty public exhibits, which have included hospitals, public schools, universities, private businesses, non-profits and other public spaces.
Choosing to be a portrait subject involves vulnerability, and as an I Am More subject, I’ve been through the process and I understand. I’m committed to making sure you have a positive experience and that means that if at any point you are not comfortable with the process you can put it on hold, no questions asked.
I Am More is a collaboration, and I am always open to your ideas and contributions in sharing the message.
If you’re ready to take the next step and have a conversation you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.