More than 500 years ago, egg tempera was used by early Renaissance artists to depict gods, saints, and the elite of Florentine society. During the first half of the 20th century, however, egg tempera would be embraced by American artists whose principal concern was to celebrate the common man, including marginalized groups experiencing life at the bottom of the social ladder. While my work is informed by the classical techniques of the Florentine Renaissance, it is equally informed by this populist tradition of American egg tempera painting.
Murray Nossel, director of the World Mother Storytelling Project, invited me to collaborate on an installation in which my tempera portraits of men and women from a wide variety of backgrounds would express the universal mother/child relationship.
The Conduit exhibit presents 108 of these portraits displayed as a great quilt. The painted faces come to life when the subjects of the portraits tell stories from their mothers’ lives on video.