Portrait Project

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Karen Sein

I used to see the world in black and white, circumscribed by the steadfast principles my parents taught me: work hard, do good, live humbly.

As I grew up, the edges of my monochromatic world peeled away, revealing ashen fog and sallow concrete. My interactions with diverse people taught me that the tragedies of difference often stemmed from the absence of opportunity. My education showed me new juxtapositions wherein abject poverty coexisted with opulent wealth. But the saddest image I saw was the disparities in health care, a complex, charcoal mess. I helplessly categorized the shades of slate but as hard as I tried, I could not bend the light to make sense of the rules that were supposed to work.

Then, instead of resigning in frustration, I realized I had a paintbrush in my hand. This paintbrush empowers me to redefine the canvas, to introduce bold crimsons, vivid saffrons, and rich emeralds into a world that suffers from gray injustice.

Using the full spectrum of light, I will design a health care system that is efficient and sensitive to those who are most vulnerable. I will mentor others who do not yet aspire to be more and I will advocate for those who lack a voice. With my paintbrush, I will color a world with the values that I know are still black and white.

I will paint fearlessly.

— Karen Sein