Elan Cadiz, Aaric, 2020, Pen, pencil, acrylic, and flash paint on Shizen Pastel Paper.
Elan Cadiz is a native New Yorker and artist whose practice is based in personal narratives, urban landscapes, architecture, and community. When the COVID-19 pandemic impacted nearly every aspect of life in 2020, her response was to create a project that would occupy her during the resulting quarantine. Under the circumstances, she especially wanted the project to honor everyone’s need for respect and tolerance.
Cadiz collected images of fellow artists, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and mentors—“people of all kinds doing their best but all in need of some kind of support.” She created drawings of them and surrounded each figure with an abstract pattern of lines representing scaffolding. She explains: “Scaffold: Equity of Treatment is about the encouragement of self-reflection and preservation and how these very important practices need to be supported by equitable treatment in our homes, communities, and world. The use of the scaffolding is to symbolize the individual care and support we all need.”
This exhibition highlights thirty of the more than 140 portraits Cadiz has created so far. The artist utilized pastel paper in shades of black, brown, light beige, grey, and gold, perhaps suggesting the array of skin tones present in a diverse and vibrant community. Committed to this ongoing project, Cadiz maintains an active Instagram account, where she posts new drawings. (Follow her @scaffoldproject and @elancadiz to see more examples and updates.) Her generous spirit and optimism are reflected in her goal “to create a currency of connection and community…If I could, I would make a portrait of everyone in the world because we all deserve support.”
Installation views of SCAFFOLD: Equity of Treatment, a Project by Elan Cadiz in the Strolling Gallery at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.
Photography by Etienne Frossard.