I’m not Brendan Fraser. I’m not Canadian-American, I didn’t star in George of the Jungle, I’m not an accomplished amateur archer, I haven’t won an Oscar, and I’ve never screamed back at a mummy. But—we’re both sensitive men who love polaroids, the outdoors, movies, and being creative. 

This month, I was tasked with writing my first artist statement. I never know how to feel about artist statements. Often, I want the art to speak for itself. Sometimes artist statements can feel like reading a mediocre foreword to a book (extra work, am I right?). There’s a certain purity to seeing a piece of art and imagining the backstory on your own. 

But then there are times when I love to know about the author’s updated insights or an artist’s process. The writing could enhance my experience and understanding to the point where I appreciate the art more than I would have without it. Hopefully this is one of those cases—otherwise, just scroll to the end! 

Here’s my artist statement for a piece titled Self Portrait:

Since I can remember, I’ve loved Brendan Fraser. I probably saw him first in George of the Jungle and I adored The Mummy in my youth even though it gave me nightmares. Since then, my love for him has evolved. Most importantly, while studying journalism in college, I read the 2018 GQ article titled What Ever Happened to Brendan Fraser?. The article outlined many of his personal, professional, physical, and familial struggles that resulted in less acting work. 


Maybe it’s because I grew up with him, maybe it’s because I think we look a little bit similar in some ways (this may be subconscious), and maybe it’s because the article was well written— I don’t think I’ll ever know. But since that day, I’ve felt a kinship with Brendan Fraser as a person. 


I was inspired by Walt Whitman. O Captain! My Captain! was a dedication to Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated. In our digital age of knowing too much about public figures, many of our heroes turned out to be dirtbags. Not so with the indelible Brendan Fraser (knock on wood). In a similar fashion to Whitman, this is my tribute to Brendan Fraser. 


I used charcoal and graphite in this portrait to focus on his humanity. Often, we don’t see celebrities as people, but more as drama fodder or icons. Hopefully the black and white medium, along with his enigmatic expression, helps the viewer see a grounded Brendan Fraser. 


The VHS tape in the top left corner represents his beginnings in the movie industry (my first connection to him) and the plantlife in the bottom right corner represents his connection to the natural world. In the GQ article, he says ‘I love forests and the seasons and…burning wood.’


O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills

—Walt Whitman

I know it’s open-hearted and on the goofy side, but so am I and so is Brendan Fraser. In the end, I love Fraser because he’s willing to be vulnerable. Here’s my attempt at the same thing by showing you each of my studies in preparation for the final. I didn’t want to be afraid of the final 24″ by 18.5″ piece, so I did three: 

Study Number One:

Study Number Two:

Study Number Three:

Final Piece:

Final Piece on the wall:

It’s not perfect, but I see myself in it.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

post calvin direct

Get new posts from Isaac DeBoer delivered straight to your inbox.

the post calvin