FAM*LY OF HUMANS - Linda Louis

This is ‘Fam*ly of Humans’ …  “Who are they?”, you ask.  The answer is, “They are US!”
'Fam*ly of Humans’ consists of 154 pen and ink portraits, on 17” x 14” paper in five colors, created over the course of nearly 2 years.
… tolerance and respect without judgement can exist.

‘Fam*ly of Humans’ seeks to illustrate how we all are equal, regardless of the color of our skin or the shape of our features. It begs acceptance of the idea that tolerance and respect without judgement can exist. By presenting a disparate imaginary population in microcosm where no one is prejudged and there is no exclusivity, ‘Fam*ly of Humans’ promotes the idea of diversity where we are all on equal footing, no one is marginalized, and social acceptance is the norm.
'Fam*ly of Humans’ are ordinary people …
‘Fam*ly of Humans’ are ordinary people … male, female, old, young, dark-skinned or fair, curly-haired or smooth, gay, trans, non-binary, straight, ethnic and so on. My cast of characters, literally born of their own will, can be said to channel a collective conscious … a cross-section of humanity without derivation from any group or nationality.
‘Fam*ly of Humans’ project tacitly asks: “Can you view me with an open mind?” “Can you see me as a person who is breathing and has feelings perhaps similar to your own?”
"Can you view me with an open mind?”
Choose any example. She or he could be from another country; could be a billionaire, a doctor, a diplomat …… could be illiterate, could be homeless, could be a terrorist. You simply cannot know.
Choose another. She or he could be a United States Senator, a famous chef, your next-door neighbor or the someone you hired to walk your dog. You simply cannot know.
... a person cannot be judged by the way they appear.
‘Fam*ly of Humans’ does not pretend to unravel the complexity of prejudice, but to illuminate with artful images, that identification, based upon physical characteristics, is impossible. Discrimination within the human family is damaging and hurtful to those against whom it is used as a weapon. It is pointless and absurd. We all share our Earth … we are one ‘Fam*ly of Humans’.

* NOTE: ‘Fam*ly of Humans’ does not include the letter ‘i’ … emphasizing that ‘WE’ are all family.

My pen created 150 portraits over the course of nearly 2 years … in each case, the result is unbidden, unplanned, and always a surprise.
At the outset, I approached my materials without a defined purpose. It was never a project, nor a plan, just an itch to put plain means to use. These tools are not exotic; the paper supply resides on my shelf. I use smooth, not artificially coated, paper. I require a surface that reveals my stroke without imposing its own willfulness. The pens are in the drawer. They are office supply store, ballpoint pens, the same pen I have employed many times before. The manufacturer might be startled to see it used to create my fine tangle of marks too numerous to be called line, but for me it is the perfect implement. I favor ordinary materials with which to create the work.
My objective is always meaningful contribution to artistic honesty. I do not wish to make ‘pretty’ pictures. Although I hope to engage my audience, I do not pay homage to trends. I take delight inventing new ways to achieve self-expression, to pursue a developing theme with integrity until its complete and utter conclusion is reached. I call my process brain dumping.
After two years, the conclusion of ‘Fam*ly of Humans’ has not been reached. 154 17” x 14” faces populate Fam*ly, yet there remains an unknown number of individuals yet to be acknowledged and realized. The series is a life-long escape into my subliminal world of inner space, an activity in which I have engaged many times during my art career … a result that transpires when I put pen to paper.
Portraits emerge very gradually during the almost meditative 4 to 5 hours required to produce a ‘Fam*ly’ member, with the absolute best part, the gift of surprise at the end. During the process, almost imperceptible subtleties can produce major variations and a face that seems to start out as one person can progressively transition into another. The most subtle facial nuances such as shape of the eye, set of the mouth, position of the features cause dramatic transformation. That is why the many faces in the series, as in life, are all different while possessing all the requisite elements.
The work begins with a rangy line that swirls aimlessly around. This random line is clearly visible in almost all the portraits, as if to remind us of the mists from whence they arrive.
The process continues with the space between the eyes; this is the most complex point. Then the pen takes over, the seed of the work starts to germinate, initial marks are made, inertia is conquered, and confidence is forged with the knowledge that I can mold the result to my liking.
The inseparable unit of individual works of art in ‘Fam*ly of Humans’ is deliberately without personal identity. They gaze straight at you completely expressionless rendering you, the viewer, virtually incapable of discerning anything meaningful about them. If they were real people, they could then advance in life based upon personal merit and who they are, not what they look like.

Warmly, Linda