Monday, October 15, 2012


 (Above:  DUI I.  Click on image to enlarge.)
DUI: Driving Under the Influence, II, I, and III. Stitched words on each portrait:  I made a mistake.  Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin.  Hand embroidery and beading.  Each portrait 25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed.
 (Above:  DUI II, Click on image to enlarge.)

From the very beginning of the Decision Portrait Series I’ve been looking for a brave person willing to share what is undeniably a poor decision….DUI…Driving Under the Influence.  I asked everyone I knew.  I posted my request on Facebook.  I thought I’d never find anyone compassionate enough to share this experience.  Amazingly, three fearless individuals stepped up with the hope that others might avoid such a situation.  I am honored by their faith in my stitches.  

 (Above:  DUI III, Click on image to enlarge.)

Please note: this series isn’t about “right” and “wrong”.  That really isn’t the focus here!  After all, we’ve all made mistakes….and most of the people I know could, at one time or the other, have made this particular mistake but not been caught.  The Decision Portrait Series is meant to confront decisions in a straight-forward, honest way…to come face-to-face with real people who stare out of the fabric and challenge our concept of stereotypes and prejudices…. to provide thought-provoking personal questions.  My hope (and these three people join me) is that people seeing these portraits will THINK before inserting their car keys after drinking. 

The amount of alcohol, a person’s sex and weight, and even the kind of alcohol can affect one’s BAC (Blood alcohol content).  The legal limit is .08 and the fines vary from state to state and with the number of incidents.  Believe it or not, there’s even an on-line breathalyzer ( and an iPhone app called “Drink Tracker”.

So….sure….there’s an overt message in this trio of portraits.  The “newsprint” look of the xylene photo transfer is really great at projecting the image of both an individual and the suggestion of a universal person…  Each portrait could be a reflection of a friend or family member…. or even oneself.  “Could this be me?” 

Yet, there’s also a subtler message because generally it “could be you”.  Each portrait is also meant to ask viewers a personal question, “How would I react if this were my neighbor, co-worker, or relative?”  This is a complex decision with complex reactions.  These are brave individuals that have shared a dark, complex choice and are hoping others take the time to contemplate their actions and reactions.

All three portraits were designed and stitched as a trio.  They have the same threads and beads and are meant to hang together.  I'm quite sure that this trio will make a lasting impression.... and hopefully will removed some of the stigma about "driving under the influence".  If we were open and honest about it, more people would "ask for a ride" or "call a cab" or have the courage to stop a friend from making a terrible mistake.

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