The Power of Portrait Brings Life to Shuttered Vancouver

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Share your best isolation portrait from inside your home and be a part of a new community-based art project! The “Power of Portrait – We are all in this together, Vancouver” is a citizen-led initiative to reclaim boarded-up storefronts as canvases to share stories of resilience and reinforce community connection, through portraits of Vancouverites.

Power of Portrait Vancouver

The Power of Portrait

The project was initiated by Andrea McLaren, a local clinical counsellor who was concerned about the psychological impact of social distancing and of the boarded-up businesses in our community during this time. She brought on Jai Djwa, a digital media artist, to help with the idea and build the website.

How it Works

Residents of Greater Vancouver are encouraged to submit either a self-portrait or a photo of a fellow self-isolator within their household to the website. Professional photographs are not required. As social distancing is critical at this time, participants are encouraged to take photos inside their homes and not out in the community. All ages are welcome to submit their portrait. Upload your photo on the website here.

The Power of Portrait project will curate a series of photo portraits submitted by Vancouverites, based on project guidelines. The photos will be shared on the project’s Facebook page and website.

In addition, up to 50 portraits will be selected to be printed in black and white and displayed in a location on Robson Street. The final installation, showing the displayed portraits, will also be shared through the project’s website and Facebook page.

The selection process will be conducted by a committee of local artists and business owners to ensure the photos meet project guidelines and are representative of the wonderful diversity that makes Vancouver such a great city.

McLaren and Djwa wanted to create something that might capture the hearts and minds of people who are socially distancing, to inspire togetherness, despite being apart.

“We are pleased to support an art project of this kind that celebrates our amazing city,” said Teri Smith, Executive Director of the Robson Street Business Association. “The initiative also provides a unique way for us to stay connected to one another during these challenging times.”

McLaren’s goal with the project is for the portraits to provide a reminder of our collective experience living in the era of COVID-19 in Vancouver, as well as help inject life and soul back into Vancouver’s quiet neighbourhood streets. McLaren and Djwa would like to acknowledge the artist JR and his Inside Out Project, which drew them to think about how art can bring people together.

Deadline for photo submissions is slated for April 15, 2020.

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