Artist paints portraits of every grad in a found yearbook, then tracks them down

In "The Altruist," artist Laurie Munn documents her adventure in found portraiture: working from a 1965 yearbook from Emerson High in Union City, New Jersey that she found in the trash, Munn painted portraits of all 220 members of the class of 65. Then she returned to the Emerson High and tracked down the subjects of her portraits to show them the great work -- discovering the heartbreaking story of the original yearbook on the way.

It's a fabulous short feature, with humor, pathos, art and nostalgia all swirled up together in a mad project.

The Altruist by Laurie Munn (Thanks, Marilyn!)

See also: Artist draws entire yearbook


  1. I love this kind of thing. A found object with a story, taken and nurtured until it creates it’s own little journey that touches so many people.

    I will say tho, it’s lucky so many of the class stayed local, if I tried to do that with my class here in the UK, I’d have no chance.

    Great post Cory, thanks!

  2. Beyond brilliant. A poor artist merely recycles, a true artist tells a new story from nothing more than a discarded book. Ten out of ten.

  3. this is dumb. why did she need to paint them? wouldn’t it be less self-aggrandizing to simply track down the people?

    (“I’m an artist! I made these things that look like you! Don’t you like them? Tell me what you think!”)

    1. wouldn’t it be less self-aggrandizing to simply track down the people?

      What a fascinating window into your subconscious mind.

  4. jstigma, it isn’t about the paintings. they are only a part of the piece. the art is in the entire zeitgeist of finding the book, becoming inspired, doing the portraiture, finding the people involved, filming the process, then editing and producing a short feature from the previous. the portraits themselves are only a small (albeit important) part of the piece as a whole. have you never taken an art history class? or are you more of the ” ah don’t know much about art, but i know whut ah likes…” school of thought?

  5. I love when artists do this sort of thing to show more about their muses and the human condition. I can’t believe how many graduates stayed at that same school to teach!

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