Sometimes the subject drives a body of work, sometimes the medium, sometimes technique. This time it was a tool. My friend Richard Craig makes things. This time he made a light. The lamp had a 1/8” capsule in which salts were melted to a plasma at 800 degrees Fahrenheit which kicked off 20,000 lumens. It was meant to illuminate an acre of parking lot or 10,000 square feet of factory floor in Taiwan. After he sold the patent, he gave me one of his prototypes.

Once I got past the science fair thrill, I enjoyed the lamp’s powerful beam and tiny source. It gives off magnificent detail without enlarging scale.

At last I had the right tool for human shadows. In my first tries drawing shadows from studio mates and friends and neighbors, I enjoyed what the drawings captured. People were recognizably themselves in quirk of hair and posture. Equally appealing was what was suppressed. Almost all the demographics were unreadable; age, class, race, beauty, confidence. Almost every marker of social ranking got lost.

All that was left was human architecture.

The samples I offer here are just that, samplings. This is a project that has yet to be developed. I am most tempted, as always, to prove the unexpected—that people aren’t what we think they are. It is especially tempting to collect and compare images of people who we think of as similar and those who we imagine to be very different. Cops and criminals? Corporate charts untethered to role? Or, as the one featured here, one person considering himself.

Some more developed versions merge silhouettes into patterns. I was amused to build the portrait of a Finnish friend against Merimekko’s famous poppy pattern. Others slip in and out of focus when positive and negative forms are rendered with slightly varied plaids.

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[#1237] Shadow Portrait #7 Madeleine
[#1229] Silhouette 2 "D"
[#1228] Silhouette 1 "M"
[#1238] Shadow Portrait J In Plaid
[#1239] Shadow Portrait M In Plaid
[#1243] Shadow Portrait M with Poppies