Ruby Monroe

NO CALL FOR PITYThe ResidentsSharyn Jordan--1993 & 1998Sharyn Jordan Holland, 2001Donald Ray OliverCarl Green, 1992Carl Green, 2001Ruby MonroeFamiliesMark DunfordNext

Ruby Monroe
Ruby Monroe

Edie writes . . .

Serious Portraits

Most of the drawings that I did on this project, especially the ones I did of men, were received in a similar way. The person would look at the drawing intently for a few seconds and then exclaim, “That’s me! That’s me!”

Sometimes I felt compelled to apologize for the seriousness of a drawing. The apology would almost always be met with an objection, something like: “I like it. That is the way I feel sometimes, especially since I’ve been here.”

One time I brought a drawing back to the shelter to work on it more, because I thought it was too “heavy.” It was of a woman who seemed to radiate energy. There was sadness in her life, but she still had an air of vitality about her. I wanted to capture that quality.

As I worked on her drawing for the second time, the woman gave me an update on what was going on in her life. Along with her usual smiles and laughter, this session also produced tears. She had just found out that her family was in the process of trying to take legal custody of her children; she was a crack addict who was trying to get clean but who hadn’t yet successfully done so. She talked about the anger, the hurt, and the fears she felt not only because of her family’s actions, but also because she faced the very real possibility of losing her children. I felt her pain as I drew her—the pain I knew I would feel if someone took my children from me—but I kept my feelings at bay. I was out to capture her “lightness.”

When I got the picture home, I realized I had failed utterly. The picture was more depressing than ever. In fact, I still have a hard time looking at it.
—Edie Cohn, 1993


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