top of page


Redeemer, Mikel Glass

Hell’s Kitchen was overrun with homeless people thirty years ago when I rented my studio there. Their suffering was an excruciating weight to bear. Giving council, a lifelong New Yorker friend offered, “Just ignore them. Don’t look at them. You need to harden your heart.” The next day I set the plan into action and avoided eye contact with the first person who solicited money from me. My experiment in callousness ended there. I decided to take a different course, and ended up spending most of the next couple of years painting people I encountered around his neighborhood.

The tradition of painted portraiture was originally used to exalt the subject of the work. In the case of the homeless people I encountered, l always felt dignity that I could highlight. People feel safe looking at a painting, so I made it my mission to use this tool to compile people like my friend to look, and hopefully feel the subject’s humanity.


bottom of page