Portrait of Shukri

acrylic, 30 inches by 22 ½ inches


Minneapolis, MN

Pamela Gaard, born in Minneapolis in 1955, is educated in the health sciences and mostly self-taught as a visual artist. When her scientist position ended at the University of MN in 2006, she began working exclusively with the east African community as a health and wellness educator, and she began making portraits in 2007.

Her portraits are made from life, first sketching from the model, and then making a photograph of the subject to later complete the work in her studio. She uses thin layers of acrylics and sometimes collage, on heavy weight archival French paper. Her works have exhibited in 50 exhibitions in the US, Germany, and Lithuania; locally at Co Exhibitions, the Walker Art Center, TuckUnder, Made Here on Block E (Hennepin Theatre Trust), and Traffic Zone Gallery.

Portraiture indulges her interests in culture, ornament, costume, and psychology. Her portrait subjects are friends, colleagues, and others — some of these portraits illuminate faces which often go unseen — elders who have immigrated to Minneapolis from east Africa. Although she is currently learning Somali language, she often utilizes interpreters for her work in the community with the elders, both for public health and for art making. Her portraits are intended, in the words of Arthur Danto, as ‘emblems through which we confer honor by preserving the likenesses of those portrayed . . . which can be channels for adoration.’