Artist-in-Residence, Charmaine Wheatley, continues to challenge our hearts and minds in the second half of her residency with “Portraits of Perseverance.”
From January through June, 2017, Wheatley focused on the mental health community of Rochester. Since July, she has engaged the HIV populations of Rochester and Buffalo.
Wheatley’s technique is informal, charming, and spontaneous. Each portrait is a pocket-sized 4” x 7-3/8.” Fragments of her conversations with her subjects are integrated within the final piece. She uses watercolor, ink, gel pen, graphite, and gouache on paper.
Can we reconcile the impact of this monstrous pandemic with these playful and colorful portraits? That’s one of the challenges Wheatley hands us. The other challenge? Get rid of the stigma you may harbor.
“De-stigmatizing happens through humanizing,” says Wheatley. So each portrait sitting involves an open-hearted discussion about living with, or loving someone with, HIV/AIDS.
Wheatley’s artist-in-residency has several sponsors, including the Center for AIDS Research, the Department of Psychiatry, the Division of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, URBEST, the Office of the SMD Vice Dean for Research, the School of Nursing, as well as programmatic support from the Memorial Art Gallery, the Neuroscience Program, and the Department of Art and Art History.
About the artist: Since graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Wheatley has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts; Arts Nova Scotia; and Arts Newfoundland Labrador. During her on-going artist residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, she sat in the “Living Room” with museum patrons and employees. An installation of 104 of these portraits is on the view at the museum. Recent related portrait work includes two artist residencies with senior centers in Brooklyn in 2016 (Krakus Senior Center in Greenpoint; and the Hope Gardens Community Center in Bushwick).
Edward G. Miner Library is open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.