Artist and public school art teacher extraordinaire, Celina Leroy, creates gorgeous portraits of individuals with vascular birthmarks, also known as port-wine stains. Her show opening attracted not only several major media outlets, but also several visitors who described the experience as “life-changing.” One young women, who has a vascular birthmark and happened to find out about the show on Instagram, told Celina that she had never before seen anyone celebrate people who looked like her. The two of them were in tears, overwhelmed by the sense of growing community.
After the show opening, Celina returned with one of her high-school classes, who were evidently very proud of their teacher, asking her to pose alongside her art with them. At the same time, we had another large group of visitors: one of Celina’s featured portrait subjects, Meghan Curley, brought her friends from the AHRC to see the show. Despite the fact that most of these visitors did not have a vascular birthmark, Celina’s work prompted a discussion about self-image and compassion that created a feeling of vulnerability and trust among everyone in the room.
Celina also hosted a portrait painting workshop in the gallery, which only furthered our admiration for the artist’s ability to create such effortless portraits.