Book Jacket illustration for a novel about Laura Bridgman, an early American deaf/dumb/blind celebrity. Predecessor to Helen Keller (who, with her greater charisma and personal beauty, ended up completely supplanting her in the public imagination), Bridgman was at one point the most famous woman in the world. I did an illustration about her years ago for the Atlantic Monthly, so I was familiar with her story, which is fascinating. Elkin's novel based on her life poses questions about insight, woman's rights, love, and abnormal psychology: thus, circumstances align, once again, to amaze me I could be offered such a congenial commission.
The difficulty of this project came from the existing photos of Laura: her black eye-bandage robs her appearance of humanity --this was a problem for me the first time I attempted a portrait of her, too.
To make matters worse, partway though the project we learned that The Perkins Institute in Boston, where she lived, was unwilling to release her photo to us anyway. So lots of photoshopping and cobbling together went into this composition. (Someday I'd like to write a Punk Rock song about about Photoshop, all loud noise and foul language, not lasting too long, or taking long to compose).
I feel a little badly about the way I prettied her up so much. The novel does a wonderful job of making her a real person, and then I come in and glamorize her for no good reason--it's not that they even asked me to! Obviously I've been living in a sexist consumer culture too long (possible alternate concept for punk screed).