Earlier this year I had the pleasure of providing illustrations for a personal essay in Oregon Humanities Magazine, written by Dionisia Morales.
The article (“Picture Their Hearts”) discusses the author’s parents’ mixed-race marriage in 1950’s America, her experiences growing up biracial in a family that didn’t talk much on the subject of race and identity, and recounts adult conversations with her now elderly (but still reluctant) mother.
The story opens with descriptions of her parents’ honeymoon photo album.The challenges in this assignment involved making the images relatable without being too specific – the author didn’t want any of her actual family portraits to be referenced.
The art director thought that a comics-inflected set of illustrations would keep the material from feeling too clinical or academic (I also created several word balloons for pull quotes).
I ended up suggesting the presence of photos as much as possible while keeping faces not entirely in-view (with the exception of President Obama, whose public image I thought formed an interesting contrast to the “hidden” visual world of the family.)
I had a great time illustrating this really intimate and thought-provoking story. Many thanks to AD Jen Wick at Oregon Humanities!