Father's Memorial

Published on 17 June 2023 at 10:32

Medium: Graphite

Date: 1998

This piece is my contribution to Father’s Day. I created this portrait for my good friend, Jay Jr. His father, Jay Sr., passed away from throat cancer in China at the age of 42. At the time, Jay Jr., who was 14 years old, was in school learning how to teach his father to read and write. After his father passed away, Jay Jr. left school to work in a factory to support his family.

Fifteen years later, Jay Jr. was running a general merchandise store in New York City, in the same building where I was the superintendent. He was now a married father of three daughters. “I love my daughters so very much,” he said.

Jay Jr. was always quick to help me with any problems I had in the building. He was very skilled in electricity and plumbing, and I deeply appreciated his willingness to offer his skills and fix many problems beyond my abilities.

One day, he showed me a small, cracked photo about one inch square. “This is a picture of my father,” he said. “It’s the only record we have of what he looked like.” I offered to turn the photo into a larger portrait for him.

To create the portrait, I enlarged the dark, broken photo using a photocopy machine. I then copied the outline with ink on acetate and used a lightbox to trace the outline onto Bristol board for the finished drawing. Carefully observing the photograph, I made the drawing in graphite, imagining the missing and hidden details.

When Jay Jr. came to see the finished portrait, he exclaimed, “Wow! This really does look like my father!” We were both happy with the result. And just by chance, we are all named Jay.

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Karen Mazza
a year ago

Incredible you continue to show how talented you are.