Artwork / Friend Request
At the click of a button you can friend just about anybody in the world, but fully befriending them is another story. It usually entails showing your new confidant again and again that you can be trusted, and, in my case, it often also involves the unusually social medium of painted portraiture, like with the 48 artworks shown here.
Soon after I moved to Lambertville in the spring of 2022, these faces made me feel like I was in the right place. Each of these animals—both the human and the nonhuman—brought me out of a kind of social stasis that had been induced, in part, by COVID, but also by the six years I’d spent living in a conservative community where very few people shared my values.
Here in the LBV, as I like to call LamBertVille, there are nylon rainbows waving from every other house and neighbors smile to acknowledge they’ve seen me around. They help me remember what it’s like to feel safe, not just in my home, but in my town—and not just in my body, but in my spirit. These 48 creatures gave me permission to try to understand how their outsides and their insides reflect each other. They trusted me with their faces and their stories, and I trusted them to see their portraits as not just a simple likeness, but instead as a depiction of the space between us.
The act of befriending—whether it’s online, IRL, or in the social medium—is never over. We’re always re-requesting friendship, repainting our confidants in the mind’s eye as we notice new layers of their personalities. And from the deep kindness of my new home, I’m a better forever-befriender to all the people I care about, in Lambertville and beyond.
The NJ.com video reporter Andre Malok made this lovely piece about Friend Request, which was exhibited in the fall of 2022 in Winifred Weiss’ studio window in Lambertville, New Jersey.