AN ARTIST'S PROCESS
In 2019, Marcellus first exhibited his “I AM” Project, consisting of six portraits of friends. They were chosen because they exude love and support and inspire him with their strength and compassion for others. This project, to us, is a perfect way to introduce you all to Marcellus, because it exemplifies his reason for painting and his creative process: to be used as “a tool for understanding and connection.”
However, it isn’t just the beautiful works that hooked us; we love this project because of the connections and conversations that came from the painting-planning process. Marcellus states that the conversations he had with his subjects were the most important and moving parts of the project, not the paintings themselves.
They represent all that the subject is; knowing more about the person makes him appreciate his pieces that much more. “In the portrait sittings and documented interviews, we went deep, digging into real emotion and some uncomfortable memories as we explored the roots of, ‘what makes you who you are?’” The power of their stories is built up, layer upon layer, becoming as essential to each piece as the canvas, providing a foundation for understanding.
Instead of taking a typical artistic-analysis approach, we wanted to leave that up to you. These are portraits, and as Marcellus has expressed, this is a project about people. In keeping with that mindset, we wanted to tell you a little about them; coming from the artist's notes, this information serves as your traditional object and wall labels.
All images are provided upon approval and courtesy of the artist. Any reproduction without written consent from him is considered to be in violation of copyright. His contact information is provided at the bottom of the page.
He's very nice, so just contact him for better quality images than what you'll find here.
Pedro, 2019. Acrylic on Canvas. 24x36 Courtesy of the artist. (C) Uriah Hammond
Pedro is a hardworking businessman, artist, and father of 6.
While he may seem cool and collected on the surface, Marcellus recalls discussions about Pedro loosing his mother, juggling everything, and how he persevered through her passing.
"[S]omehow Pedro managed to become the man I know today... full of love and always willing to offer his hand or advice if he can. [It is] truly a blessing to know him".
What led me to the "I AM" project was I looked around and I saw so many people having this huge identity crisis or becoming victims to circumstance.
It was weighing on my heart so heavy; I couldn’t get out of my head either. So, I asked myself: “how can I help?”
The small way that I could at the time was to interview people around me that were amazing but also have been through quite a bit of trauma. I wanted to let people know that they’re not alone in their struggles, encourage them and in some cases offer a fresh perspective.
Joon, 2019. Acrylic on Canvas. 24x36 Courtesy of the artist. (C) Uriah Hammond
Growing up, Joon moved around a lot. Constantly being the new kid, he never quite felt like he fit in anywhere, which made it very difficult to cultivate relationships. This lasted into adulthood, and Marcellus remembers being thrown off guard by the notion, because he said that Joon was always so welcoming and seemed to make friends easily. Joon credits this ability to persevere to his faith, and Marcellus is so grateful for his counsel, because Joon tells it like it is.
Each person I interviewed came from a different walk of life in different parts of the world. I was so encouraged not only by these peoples’ strength to grow through what they did, but also by the fact that they were still able to love despite everything they went through that absolutely blew my mind.
Through the interviews I found a common denominator...they were all crazy! I’m kidding! What really stood out to me was that the majority of the people I interviewed had tapped into a power greater than them. The Christians all had similar testimonies; in their God they found forgiveness, found hope, found love, and found a new life for themselves. It was beautiful to hear how they were transformed and became the person they are today.
Jas, 2019. Acrylic on Canvas. 24x36 Courtesy of the artist. (C) Uriah Hammond
Jas is a beautiful soul, who loves to entertain and help guide people-- which is probably what makes her a wonderful counselor. She is a mutual friend of Marcellus's and mine, which is why this painting of her is so special. Her warm personality and friendly demeanor are translated so well, as she sits on a chair similar to those found in her living room. It's like catching up after a meal when she asks, "how are you, what's on your mind?".
Her journey hasn't been an easy one, though. Like many of the others featured in portraits here, she has had obstacles thrown in her way, but has found a firm foundation in her faith.*
*We were not given permission to disclose personal information outside of what is stated. We value everyone's privacy in wanting to keep Gallery Talk a safe and welcoming space.
I thought it was really cool that these people let me paint them. It surprised me, actually, that people would be willing to even open up and share their stories, their hurts, pains, and dreams. I was truly humbled by this experience; I definitely want to do more of it.
The above image is from Marcellus's solo exhibition of his "I AM" Project in 2019.
Lydia, 2019. Acrylic on Canvas. 24x36 Courtesy of the artist. (C) Uriah Hammond
A battle with depression is never easy and can be a long journey, but having hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel is a small victory. Hoping that our lives may be used as a blessing for others is beautiful, and that is what Lydia hopes for--even as she continues to fight daily.
The “I Am” project means a lot to me, because it was my first congruent body of work. It was a big challenge for me at the time. I was working on three portraits at a time; at one point I had all six in rotation in the studio, I learned a lot about my craft there in this project as well.
Nancy, 2019. Acrylic on Canvas. 24x36 Courtesy of the artist. (C) Uriah Hammond
I was working full-time painting a mural and getting together fundraising for my trip to Argentina. It was a lot going on! Somehow, someway we pulled it off…
One of my biggest takeaways from this project would be this: people are people no matter where you go on the planet. We all have struggles, trauma, things we go through but...hope is available to every single one of us; we are not our circumstances; that’s not our identity.
John, 2019. Acrylic on Canvas. 24x36 Courtesy of the artist. (C) Uriah Hammond
Marcellus recounts how awestruck he was by John's story. He is a fighter, bouncing "back like elastic", with a big heart for his community and loved ones. But John had to fight to be where he is today. He's a recovered addict, who has been close to hell and back, and serves as real "encouragement" to Marcellus.
I’ll leave you with one question:
“what makes you who you are?”