Signed, Limited Edition "Amber" (8x10) print by David Lang


Signed, Limited Edition "Amber" (8x10) print by David Lang


"Amber" David Lang


8 x 10 in Inkjet Print

Edition 25 

The Art Start Portrait Project 2014

Signed by artist

*100% of proceeds benefit Art Start

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Amber is timid at first. She has deep expressive eyes that jump to life when she’s excited. “It’s amazing,” she says, looking down at her photo from The Portrait Project. “I can’t believe he thinks I’m like Frida Kahlo. She’s so inspirational.”

Amber refers to photographer David Lang’s idea for her portrait. Together, they based it upon talks they’ve had about Amber’s vision for herself — less about a career and more about the kind of person she is and wants to become in her future.

She holds the photo pensively. “The photo in the frame is in black and white to show that it was a darker time in my life, being on the streets” she says. “The color photo is the essence of me — the future. I feel like I’m in a better place now...more positive.”

I ask her why she thinks Frida is so inspirational. She tells me how she learned Frida was very open about the pain she was going through. That she expressed it through her art. I ask her if she uses art the same way Frida did.

She grabs her phone and flips through some photos. She finds the one she’s looking for and shows it to me. It’s a photo of a t-shirt she made at an Art Start workshop, led by fashion designer, Donwan Harrell. The t-shirt has the words “bruised never broken” written across it.

“I’ve been through a lot. I’m not broken, if anything it made me better,” she offers as an explanation. Amber is nineteen-years-old. She just graduated from high school. She says her grades were ok, but she was in and out of shelters for the past few years and working at McDonald’s. She tells me she knows she could have done better. “I’m upset because I know I could get the grades everybody else has.” She pauses and then asks, “Why don’t they ever pick someone who has to struggle to be the valedictorian?” She has a point. The word valedictorian summons an image of a prim and proper kid with a mom and a dad, a white picket fence and all the support in the world. Someone who never worries about where they’re going to sleep at night or what they’re going to eat. Amber tells me she got into Art Start because she was living in a homeless shelter where the classes were mandatory. She says at first she was annoyed. “I was like, ‘why do I have to go to some art class?" She says the annoyance faded quickly. It was relaxing. It was a place where she could have a conversation....

Written by Sarah Barrett, Portrait Project 2013