Nicole Bourgea, portrait artist, and native of Washington, D.C., is using art to connect to people in a whole other way. Her project, which she’s dubbed “As Is,” includes artwork that has been seen all over D.C. What’s unique about it is the fact that, after painting a portrait of someone she’s snapped a picture of, she returns it to where she originally met them. There, she sets the painting out with a sign that says, “If this is you, this painting is yours to take.”
Bourgea says she likes to capture people in their natural environments, painting them in a way that is authentic. It shows their passions or simply what they do with their time. And she hopes that they’ll each be able to find their own painting.
Like street art, these rich works of art are open for everyone to enjoy for free. They aren’t reserved for museum visitors only, but they are just as beautiful. It shows the world in a way that’s very honest, and it’s catching people’s eyes.
Some subjects have already found their portraits—propped up in their workplaces or frequently visited locations. Of course, it’s unlikely that all the subjects will find their paintings. One portrait portrays a surveyor who probably travels frequently and was in that location just that once. He might not even know it’s there, waiting for him.
But while Bourgea says she hopes the person who takes the painting is the person in it, she doesn’t mind if it’s someone else. “But even if it’s somebody else who really is opening their eyes and noticing the people around them and recognizing their neighbors, I think that’s wonderful, too. It really makes me happy,” she says.