Telling My Story…at the edge of recovery

Exhibition Description

I first met with Drs. David Moxley and Olivia Washington to discuss the possibility of joining the Telling My Story team in the Spring of 2004. But it would be yet another year before the actual work of preparing the portraits would start. Even as I began, I was still unsure of what to expect. My assigned task was to create narrative portraits of eight African American women 50 years of age and older who were in various stages of recovery from homelessness. Far from being literal portraits with formal poses, my objective was to create what was in essence a conceptual narrative portrait made up of a variety of elements, composed in such a way as to create some kind of emotional and informed response. The artwork that filled the exhibition spaces was the result of collaborations between this artist and the women whose lives were described in each piece…

As for these eight ladies, along with the research team from Wayne State, ultimately, I am left in awe…of the journeys they’ve made, and the vision they and the researchers possess. We are each only a thin line from facing the prospect of homelessness. And we each have to ask ourselves… do we have the strength within us to survive? Would we have the strength to recover? Do we possess the creative vision to offer so much more than simply the kindness of strangers. And, as a community, will we ever recognize that this is not just kindness we need to share. It is, ultimately, our humanity.

~ Mara Jevera Fulmer, Artist/Curator
June, 2006

Telling My Story…at the edge of recovery

8 Narrative Portraits by Mara Jevera Fulmer, 2006

June 2006 Installation at BCBS Headquarters, Detroit, Michigan

Summer 2006 Installation at Mott Community College, Flint, Michigan


The artwork for the Telling My Story exhibition was created in support of research work undertaken by Dr. David Moxley and Dr. Olivia G.M. Washington, supported by the School of Social Work and the Institute of Gerontology and Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.

See some of their research featured in this scholarly article:
Helping Older African American Women Who are Homeless through Visual Images and Creative Strategies, by Washington, O., Feen-Calligan, H., & Moxley, D. (2009). Visual Culture & Gender, 4, 7-20. Retrieved from