My thesis work involved figures and portraits. My main portion, which is on this page, revolved around the Hope Center, in Wilmington NC, which was a day shelter that helped the homeless, or those who are just down on their luck. To those who were there, they became friends and we had referred to all as "friends in need". The inspiration for this series came about from my own mother who had initially grown up in severe poverty. She was adopted later on in life, but never forgot where she had came from. This made a huge impact on my own life, and I had wanted to create a series that helped to make a difference in the lives of those that I painted. I paid those that are shown here to model for me, and I also gave them a copy of their painting. This is only after I had earned their trust through fellowship which included telling my own back story, eating a meal with them, having coffee, and talking while really getting to know them. I always asked after we had talked if they knew someone who was interested in having their portrait painted, many said "No thank you". Some really had an interest in what I was doing and agreed. My work was to show the beauty of everyday people, who attended the Hope Center, volunteers, or those who worked there in a beautiful and dignified way. Prior to graduation, I had put together a show that was hosted at The Cameron Art Museum, with a lecture on my thesis work. The series has been shown in multiple locations from Foxes Boxes to Expo 216 where we introduced "artists in need" that were from the Hope Center, and had included their work with mine. We had guests come out for "What's your story Wednesday" which was so powerful to hear those in need that created their own art tell their stories, and we helped them sell their art. My work during graduate school was both humbling and very gratifying. Getting to know our "friends in need" in a real and tangible way, and seeing lives impacted in a positive way, was something I am very grateful to have experienced. I currently volunteer with those in need through Recuperative Care in Wilmington, NC. A portion of all profits on the sales of the Hope Center series, goes directly back to those in need at Hope Recuperative Care and Walking Tall Wilmington. Both groups were originally part of The Hope Center and now both groups are servicing those in need in real and tangible ways that are the changing lives.