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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drawn to Develop 2010

For the last three years, I've had the honour of participating in a fantastic project called Drawn to Develop that raises funds for street youth around the world under the organization Street Kids International. A hand-picked list of Canadian photographers are given a drawing from a survivor and asked to interpret the image into a photograph which is then auctioned off at a stellar fund raising event.

For some press on the event, CBC's Metro Morning radio set up an interview with me to talk more about the project and what my process was all about. I had the chance to talk with the very collected and oh-so-morning-person Matt Galloway. You can listen to our chat on CBC's website here.

This year, I was given an image from 14 year old Josephine from Kenya who had drawn a bunch of young ladies standing outside on a street smoking. She wrote that she would like to become a hair dresser and thinks if she stops smoking 'ganga' [weed], she will be able to pursue her dream.

Here is Josephine's drawing and photo:

Every year I’ve basically had the same conceptual approach. To create an empowering portrait using something from their story that would otherwise be the element that suppresses them. Josephine stated that she would like to be a hairdresser but needs to quit smoking pot in order to achieve any real success. Using smoke and coloured lights, I formed what looks like a wig of hair around her head.
The greatest challenge in creating my piece was the casting. I spent months trying to find someone who looked as close to Josephine as possible. I ended up street casting myself and in the end, felt like a bit of a stalker. Walking up to women and wincing my eyes to try and imagine them under my lights. Out dancing, having dinner, waiting in line for coffee – yep, I was that woman…checking out the ladies. In the end, I was lucky to find Neema Bickersteth an opera singer walking her dog. I circled her a couple times in my car and finally parked as she had striking similarities. I chased her down the street and called out “excuse me” far too many times with increasing volume and desperation. Out of breath and sounding a little needy as I caught up to her, I explained the organization and project hoping she didn’t think I was just some creepy woman. She obliged to take a look at the project and Street Kids International inevitably spoke for itself and she was sold. She certainly captured what I was after.


  1. Congratulations on this strong and fine portrait, Kerry. You do such awesome work!
    A. Susan

  2. this is an amazing project and the portrait you created is a so tender and beautiful - thanks for sharing :)