I think we all been through some kind of trauma, things that happened in our childhood, things that we never mentioned to anybody, or don't want people to know about ourselves, [like] being in an abusive relationship, you know? [We are] looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for a father figure through men that we probably think we can see our father through.
The portrait I painted of Danielle Metz for “Per(Sister)” is based on a recent photograph that she gave me to use for reference. I met Danielle when she was about 19 or 20 years old, before she went to prison. We reconnected earlier in 2018. Ever since President Barack Obama granted her clemency in 2016, I’ve wanted to paint her portrait. Danielle and I were both raised in the uptown Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans. She was one of my youngest sister's best friends. Years ago, we actually discussed my painting a portrait of her mother.
This painting of Danielle is connected to a series of portraits I started in 2010 called the “Injustice Exhibition”, which features a collection of work focusing on the lives of people in Louisiana who have been wrongfully convicted or harshly sentenced. When I started that project, I wanted to use art to bring greater awareness to the abuses of the criminal justice system, as well as the story of my son, Mac, who is an innocent musician and presently incarcerated at Hunt Correctional Facility.
“Steps to Freedom” is a related series I started in 2017, through the support of an artist residency with the organization Bar None. It uses the shoe as a symbol and that project has included workshops with incarcerated youth at various detention centers. I enjoy working with young people and anyone whose story needs to be heard.
It’s My Time and My Freedom, 2018