Shanté Booker

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Whimsical Portraits and Colorful Dreams

Mercedes Kelly, 52, has a habit of painting her dreams. She can never recall what they’re about, but she always remembers how they made her feel and the colors they left behind. “These were the colors of this one,” she said, pointing to a vibrant canvas. The edges of the painting start off with dark […]

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Finding Comfort in Your Fears

Alyson Vega, 52, was eating dinner with her family when she suddenly was overwhelmed by pain in her head. She had been experiencing other symptoms, including numbness on the left side of her face and an inability to feel or taste food on that side of her tongue. But it was that night at dinner […]

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Child-like Figures in an Adult World

I was scribbling in my notepad when a man sporting a red cap and a denim jacket burst through the doors. “All right, I’m ready,” he said to Celene Ryan, the Director of Artist Development for Arts Unbound, an organization that showcases the work of self-taught artists. Brad Friedman, the man with the red cap, […]

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From Protractors to Paint Brushes

It all started with a check. Tom Yezza was bored at his desk during a grade school lesson and started to doodle. He drew one line, then another, and eventually a curve. When he was done, he had a figure that looked similar to the Nike logo, but “way cooler,” according to Tom. It was […]


How One Tarot Card Reader Uses Spirits to Paint

The band stopped playing, the crowd simmered down, and everyone proceeded to form a circle around a short gothic-looking woman wearing a white bonnet. Her face, painted in black and white, resembled a skeleton. She took her place at the center of the circle and began to recite her original story, “Stoic Grin.” Though she […]


Hooker Green Paint and A Nervous Breakdown

I hop off of the bus and spend 15 minutes scanning the block for building number 3441—oddly, every number was accounted for, except 3441. I’m searching for a man that doesn’t have an email address, he refuses to use a Samsung Galaxy phone that he won at a street fair because his Sprint flip phone […]