Mary Borgman: Artist Statment

Formerly a professional sign language interpreter, I now translate into drawings the personalities and dignity of individuals. My subjects are often people I spot on the street. I can’t say exactly what attracts me to them, but almost immediately I have a vision of the finished portrait.

I work with charcoal on frosted Mylar. This translucent film allows light to pass through all untouched and erased areas of the drawing, imparting a subtle luminosity. My process involves constantly changing the marks, values, and movements until the formal energies support my intention.

Once I’ve lived with it, I continue to make minute adjustments in facial expression to emphasize the subject's personality. When I can feel the subject’s presence, I know it’s done.

The subjects assume frontal, uncompromising poses and look directly at the viewer. The larger-than-life size format magnifies the intensity of the subject’s gaze, turning the observer into the observed.

Photo of Mary Borgman