Portraits tell us who we are.


By describing us to ourselves as shared concepts.  Good portraits are conversations between the viewer and the viewed.

&Truthful, visually authentic portraits are one of the few means of quantifying quality of life.

Statements of hope and complicity. How we intend &do share the world.

Instituions quickly reveal internal attitudes toward humanity and quality of life within the way they depict their people.

Whether people are to be considered a resource of intelligent beings or stackable commodities.

Consumers or citizens.

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Genuine relationships can be seen. Hopefully lasting a lifetime.


Portraits are miniature biographies and autobiographies capable of engendering empathy or godforbid contempt to thoughtful intelligent people in less time than it takes to proclaim a buzz word.


My personal thought upon seeing a portrait is the immediate decision toward whether or not I would enjoy meeting this person. As a thinking citizen.

A question of intelligence really. I’m often amused at large groups of students shown by universities doing stupid things … As if large numbers of idiots are a better experience than a few.

Comfort, race, ethnicity, poise are immediately evident. Without the awkwardness these subjects acquire even with the most careful and sincere wording.


By placing items specific within the university context. Ethnic values can be addressed  With a beautiful respect.

Indeed, archaic words like: sincerity, dignity, propriety, are increasingly evident only in true visuals as we are told that quality is only measured by quantity.

As if a hog was superior to a gazelle simply as it weighs more.


The generations of people flowing through a university

can be depicted in silhouette.

The best portraits are those communicating personal identity.

“That could be me.” Or it could be Jim or Sallie.

The campus itself becomes a portrait of the hopes and aspirations of generations of families.


At a university, all real photographs are actually portraits. Photos used to document words are counter productive as they question the veracity of what is being said.

(Questioning ones own truthfulness is a poor communications strategy. )



Portraits can be made of both passing time …..

and the maturation of the relationships themselves.


Sports activities become identity portraits when they move beyond the obvious documentation of an event and show changing roles and social models within the society of the institution.

All sterotypes disolve before the viewers eyes.cheerleadertaylor9696


And speak across generations.  (In those awful marketing terms that have led to such terrible huckstering: they blend demographics.

As Curley of the THREE¬†STOOGES¬† replied when asked as a court witness “if he swore?”

“No … ¬†but, I know all the words.”)


As the university “mission” should be thoughtful people capable of adding to society … Provoking positive thought is a demonstration of University bona fides.


The comfort of an individual in potentially uncomfortable situations creates and institutional statement. On how welcome a stranger will be immediately.

Or the context in which that education places its people within the world.


Nurture, social ability eden2cov-w9696

and finally  an educated understanding of  beauty and life are surely possibilities for portraiture.


Indeed the portrait of a university founder and his dreams can be made with his cane chair and the life blooming around his home. A hundred years later.


Finally in combination, the viewer receives a reasonably truthful portrait of the university itself.  An identity all universities worth their salt should be pleased to keep.

As Cartier Bresson said: “If an approach is elegant; it is probably approaching the truth.”

Always thought teaching the classics & their innate search for truth has a dignity and grounding. Any society that looses its desire for the truth embraces and champions its own decline.

H. Scott Heist   Splinter Cottage 09

“Portraits” is the work of ¬†H. Scott Heist. ¬†Rights on all content is reserved and may nt be used without permission.

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contact: SplinterCottage@aol.com & 1.610.346.8538