Life on the Road: Self-Portraiture

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

13 states. 23 cities.

Erika Hess is the new recruiting officer at A&D. Her new job has her living out of a suitcase and communing with strangers in airport lounges and hotel check-in counters. She travels to high schools around the country, talking to prospective A&D students and high school art teachers, and representing A&D at National Portfolio events. 

A practicing artist herself, Erika soon realized it wouldn't be easy to keep up with her creative activities on the road.

So she came up with a plan – a small plan,  but a plan that would keep her away from C.S.I. reruns and help her stay connected to her right brain.

She decided to document each hotel room experience with a self-portrait. Rules: use any mirrored surface to capture the composition and, wherever possible, use the hotel's provided stationary and pen.

Here's a sampling of Erika's life on the road, as told by Erika herself and her pen/pencil.

(And make sure to check out Erika's work when-not-on-the-road here.)

Cincinnati. This was the first hotel I stayed at on my travels, and I had a lot of time to draw. They gave me this strange room with three bedrooms, but it did have a great view of the city. This piece is drawn from the reflection in the windows to capture the grid of the buildings.
Kalamazoo. So actually I dashed this one off in the rest stop but this picture is important to me. It was my first time traveling through Michigan. It was cold, so I'm wrapped up in a hat and scarf. The pastel design behind the sketch is from another drawing I did in the parking lot of Interlochen Art Academy the day before.
Houston. I was exhausted at this point in my journey. I was staying at a really disgusting hotel, right next to a shady liquor store, near the airport and a way from downtown. I felt relatively stranded and isolated being away from everyone in the city.
Chicago. This was one of my favorite hotels during my travels. It had high ceilings and beautiful old windows that looked out over the water. I happened to be there during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations which were happening right beneath the windows. At one time, they lit candles and placed them in red lanterns which floated up past my windows. They chanted all night... I also like the stability of this composition which reflected the symmetry in the room.
Boston. I like this picture. It was the first time I'd had a good time in Boston since grad school. I was about to go out to meet old friends so I was ironing my clothes.
Queens. In New York I stayed with a friend in Queens. I'm sitting on her bed and the mirror is in the closet. It's slightly off-kilter - maybe because it's a home not a hotel, a real place with real stuff around me.
Philadelphia. A hotel with a bathrobe - wow. It's amazing how a bathrobe can give you that sense of home, even in a hotel. I kept the sign on the door in the composition though, as a reminder of where I was. The bathroom had this great wallpaper that I really loved which I wanted to include too.
Queens. I kept returning to my friend's place in Queens. I wanted to give her a drawing to keep, so I included her in this self portrait. She's been a friend for about 10 years and the New York trips gave me a chance to connect with her again.
San Francisco. I had no time during this trip, I just flew in and flew out. But this hotel did have stationary, and I did visit the art museum, so I included a map of the museum in my portrait.
Sarasota. My dad lives in Florida. This was my last trip on my tour. It's also possible that it could be the last time I see my father. The drawing ended up being very stylized and symbolic. It reminds me of the Saint cards you pick up when leaving a Cathedral. There is something final in that action and image to me. After that, I returned to Ann Arbor, and I'm getting a chance to settle in - at least for a little while - now that the application period has closed.