During this time when UFOs and entities on other planets are at the forefront of conversations, I believe that we should spend less time finding life on Mars and more on fixing the Earth we currently occupy. Thinking about the endless space above our heads also makes me think of the ground our feet currently touch. What do we consider to be our reality, and with whom do we share it? Thinking about aliens reminds me that as humans we have more similarities than differences.

  • TitleA Likeness
  • Type(s)Drawing, Participatory
  • AgendaHumanism
  • Year(s)2019–
  • LocationFlorence, Italy
  • ReferencesGalileo Galilei, Italo Calvino, Medici Family
A Likeness

I like to use my art as a tool of action — it is my way of protesting about a cause or speaking on an issue I care deeply about. How can we as humans help other humans? How can I offer my own passions to the collective? What skills can I apply to help the whole? I hope that the project I propose here will represent an effort to think more expansively and generously about our fellow people, and act as a reminder — to myself and others — to fight for better living standards for families around the world.

As I write this, I am sitting in my apartment on via dei Serragli in Florence, in an area called Santo Spirito. It was here where early humanism began with Giovanni Boccacio and where Galileo Galilei practiced and declared his findings of the universe which Today, we can see the ripple effects of these findings. As an artist currently located in Florence, I’m inspired by these great minds and their work for humans across time and space. My new project, titled A Likeness, will be of humans and for humans.

A Likeness examines the idea of family. We are all born into families of varying shapes and sizes and kinds. As we age, our relationship to those families may grow or change. Perhaps our friends become family, or our pets become family. This project will act as a reminder of what family is.

For me, the idea of family has always felt strained. There were many years that I hardly spoke to my family at all. I was the black sheep, and this came with many difficulties, but it also allowed me to grow and to do things in my own way. The absence of my family for some time has made me more attuned to the dynamics inherent in other families.

What I have recognized over the years is that a family is simply two or more beings who take care of one another. And when we stand back — perhaps — we can begin to see that family also constitutes those who live together on this planet we call home.

Living in Santo Spirito in Florence, I can’t help but think about the area’s history and compare it to today. The Santo Spirito church — whose facade is completely bare and thus very modern-looking — sits elegantly and quietly in the piazza, beyond the round stone fountain that slowly trickles water. I spend time sitting by this fountain, gazing at the church, and thinking of what occurred here. This church was the last work of Filippo Brunelleschi, who invented linear perspective and inspired the importance of drawing in Florence. It was in this church where great thinkers such as Boccaccio, Petrarch, and Cosimo Medici discussed early humanism. I believe this moment in history is especially important because the conversations of early humanism took place in a church, yet humanism became a philosophy that puts all religions aside and allows people to connect to each other on the basis of our similarities rather than our differences. Humanists tend to advocate for human rights, free speech, progressive policies, and democracy. To be a good humanist you must be engaged in the world. Part of humanism today is about giving back, helping other humans who may be in need. With A Likeness, I hope to engage in these ideas by spending time with and depicting families of all kinds and contributing a portion of the proceeds to families living in poverty.

Cosimo de Medici’s grandson Lorenzo de Medici made a great change in art by including his family as subjects of representation in his painting, rather than exclusively portraying religious figures and royalty.

Not only did the Medici family affect trends in portraiture, they were also history’s greatest art patrons.

This idea of patronage served as inspiration for A Likeness; I wanted to create a project that allowed collectors to become active collaborators and supporters. By purchasing sketches of their families, participants become art patrons themselves.

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