I was dipped in Brooklyn last week. Well, not me. But figuratively, me.
Oliver Jeffers painted a portrait of me, and then invited 15 friends to his studio to see the finished work for roughly 10 minutes together.
We all met in the cold, unheated first floor of The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn, NY around 7PM. There was this big sheet of paper that was hung in midair, and lit so that we could all see it while we were waiting. I thought it was a blank piece of paper.
But it was actually a story I told Oliver, handwritten by Oliver, of my life and a loss I had experienced. It was about my loss of a mentor in 1996 — when Paul Rand died. And it was about a loss I had experienced in 2016 — when I tripped on the sidewalk and broke my arm, and couldn’t use it for a couple of months. It’s never been the same.
So we waited together in the cold.
And then we went upstairs, and knew that something large was hiding behind a white satin shroud. It was suspended in the air. Oliver unveiled the painting. There I was! Rendered in oil paint, and in a way that I’d never seen before. My exposed arm and scar were visible. I was wearing a pink shirt with a mandarin collar that day. It was quite an honor to be painted by Oliver Jeffers and I wanted to take a photograph of the portrait. But no cameras were allowed.
Oliver proceeded to empty ten buckets of paint into a wooden trough that sat on the ground below the hung portrait.
The painting was dipped, and then carried over the piece of paper that had hung on the first floor. The drizzling paint covered the parchment as it was moved to the wall.
It was especially relevant to be dipped in this way for me as I had just released the Design in Tech Report and was feeling a bit lost. Do you know that feeling? You’ve just done something big. And you were waiting for it to get out there. And then suddenly it’s gone. And you aren’t sure what to do with yourself. So to see myself be physically dipped into a vat of paint at the long completion of Oliver’s efforts to paint my portrait, it put everything into perspective for me.
“Nothing is permanent.”
Oliver began the performance saying, “Nothing is permanent.” He’s absolutely right.
Thank you, Oliver! For the honor of being dipped! And special thanks to Tina Roth Eisenberg for introducing me to Oliver!