Imago Dei Portraits
(formally Face To Face Initiative)
Imago Dei Portraits feature people from around the world living through life’s most difficult circumstances. The purpose of each collection is to share their stories of hope and encourage those painted that they are created in God's image (Imago Dei) — that they have divine purpose, worth, and dignity.
In 2003, artist Freedom Rodriguez visited Africa for the first time and his life has never been the same since. He was completely overtaken by it’s natural beauty and it’s tragic realities. He visited again in 2006 and it proved to be a confirmation of his growing desire to help and love others through his life and art.
The vision for the portraits came when he went to a small town library, in 2009. There in the lobby where piles of books with a sign over them that read “FREE”. Many of the books were children’s books and very old with damaged corners and ripped pages. Out of the many, one in particular stood out. It was heavily stained and had the word “DISCARD” stamped across the front cover. He knew that these books would soon be trashed if no one takes them. But thought who would want these old, raggedy books. Then all these words started flooding his mind: unwanted, discarded, forgotten, rejected, unpopular, abused—at the same time the faces of the children he met in Africa flashed before him on the cover of all these books filled with forgotten stories. And suddenly the reality that most of these children experience dug deeper in his heart; the feeling of being literally unwanted, abandoned, neglected, abused, and discarded like these books with stories no longer desirable.
So, he took the books home and started to paint the faces of the children on the book covers. Using photos as reference, he started with one and ended up painting one hundred portraits. The discarded books represent the forgotten people around the world that still have stories knowing and remembering. He wants to bring light to that truth and help remind others of their dignity.
Since then, Freedom has partnered with CARE FOR AIDS to paint 100 portraits of their clients and staff and has helped to raise over $35,000 from the sales of original art and portrait books. The successful partnership is now a model for other ministry partnerships with the purpose of sharing stories of hope and raising funds for the ministries serving the people we paint portraits of.
Also, film maker Michael LaFrance has partnered with Freedom Rodriguez to work on a documentary titled:
Facing Freedom is a documentary (in the making) chronicling the journey of Atlanta based artist Freedom Rodriguez into creative activism.
After Freedom visits the slums of Kenya and comes face to face with the clients of the Care For Aids program he finds inspiration in their stories for a new portrait series and is left wondering, can art make a social impact?
You can help fund this initiative and help us finish this documentary by clicking the donate button below! We also have a site dedicated just for this documentary.