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Cities of Silhouettes: A Visual Journal

Missy Dunaway's avatar Missy Dunaway

When I accepted a Fulbright Fellowship to study textiles in Istanbul in 2013, I didn’t think my side project –a travel sketchbook— would become my most passionate project. It was something I did in my spare time, but I continued the practice in the following years at international artist-in-residence programs. What started as nine months in Istanbul snowballed into four wondrous years exploring the globe, rendered here in my journals. Each page depicts a landscape or memory embellished with handwritten poetry, building a five-year narrative of what I discovered about myself as I discovered the world. Locations depicted in the journals include: New York, Turkey, the Moroccan Sahara Desert, France, Sweden, Finland, England, Iceland, and Maine. This journal was my greatest asset while traveling abroad. It overcame steep language barriers by visually communicating who I am, what I do, and where I have been. When holding a camera, subjects might cover their faces, turn their backs, or cautiously ask if their likeness would be posted online. Photography is commonly weaponized on the internet, so cameras are approached with suspicion, and image editing programs have done little to repair trust. Painting, I found, is a gentler form of documentation. Subjects who recoiled from the camera gladly consented knowing it would be used for a painting. Even though my creative journal wasn’t the subject of my fellowship, it was my favorite project to come out of it. My journal was always met with kind curiosity, wonder, and encouragement—qualities that defined my trip and were captured in its documentation. At times when there seemed to be no common ground, I could always find a mutual love and admiration for the arts. It is what connects us.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 2 inches
  • Medium: Acrylic-ink in 5 Moleskine journals
  • Width: 10 inches
  • Year created: 2018
  • Height: 8.25 inches