Welcome to the Durham Region Portrait Project​

My name is Dani Crosby.

I am a local artist, arts educator and community collaborator.


I am grateful for the personal stories people choose to share with me. Stories about experiences, perspectives, thoughts and emotions. Stories about things that cannot be seen but come together to shape the identity of the person sharing with me.


Without the challenge of these stories I could not grow. There is comfort and discomfort to be found in knowing more about the people around me. There is knowing that I am not alone. There is struggling and learning to understand differences, process difficult information and the choice to be motivated in new directions in light of new knowledge.


Art has become many things for me. It has become a service I offer, an experience I share in academic settings. But before it became any of these things it was a place to put the parts of myself that had nowhere else to go. When the opportunity for a conversation did not exist, when other outlets were not available, I have always had my art. I recognize how lucky I am to have this outlet for myself. Being able to express myself through visual art has helped me all my life to process information and experiences. For me making art is a need. No matter what direction I take in my life, no matter how my career might change, art will always be something I need to do.


I grew up in, moved away from and came back to Durham Region where I now live and work. The experiences and people that have shaped me the most are tied to Durham Region. That is why I want to begin this project here, at home.




I will create portraits based on the information

provided anonymously by participants from Durham Region.


I'm asking each participant to tell me about parts of their story, their identity, the parts of them that perhaps no one can see; emotions, states, experiences.


There is the visual and basic information we present as ourselves to broader society. Our name, the colour of our skin, the sound of our voice, our most obvious roles. I am interested in learning past this information. Standing next to one another it can be difficult to imagine the worlds contained within our neighbours.




With the Portrait Project I will create evidence of the invisible self in the form of visual art.


As this body of work develops I will use a wide range of symbolism, in a consistent manner, to represent each participant. This will help me to create observable links and contrasts between each subject's unseen stories. The broader audience will be able to look at the collection of visualized stories and see patterns emerging.


For example you could see a portrait of a child next to a portrait of a senior citizen and observe similar visual symbols contained within each portrait, as well as contrasting symbolism. These two individuals, while different in many easily observable ways may have shared experiences, could be consumed by similar emotions.


I want people not only to see themselves and their own stories visualized but also to create a sense of familiarity, a knowledge that each person included in this body of work is someone you could quite possibly know, walk by on the street, and someone you could learn from, relate to.

I will draw and paint each portrait using a variety of media on pieces of 5x7 foot fabric. My style and use of imagery will fluctuate to suit each individual I will work to represent. All portraits will be displayed at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in the fall of 2019 as part of a 2 person show involving myself and David Bobier. Look him up, he does some very interesting things. Exact dates to be announced. Please follow me on Facebook at Dani Crosby Art and the blog section of my website at danicrosby.com for progress images, writings, and show details.

This is the first portrait I have created for this series. This is a self portrait.

photo credit Oliver Fernandez

These are close croppings of Portrait 1. Please click to enlarge each image.


This is an example of how I will title each portrait, based on my own personal information:


Portrait 1



Irish, English, Scandinavian

Mother, Artist, Educator


The participation process allows all participants to remain anonymous.

If you would like to participate in this project and allow me the privilege of creating your portrait please proceed.


To participate on-line please click HERE.


If you choose to participate through this online participation form you will have the option of accessing an audio guide for each section.

If you choose to participate through this online participation form you will have the option of responding to each section in writing or by uploading an audio file.


To participate by printing and mailing in/dropping off a hard copy please copy and paste the text at the bottom of this page or download a copy of the participation form by clicking the below "DOCX W" icon.




All hard copy participation forms can be dropped off at:


Address to: Dani Crosby

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

72 Queen Street, Civic Centre

Oshawa ON L1H 3Z3



Monday to Friday 10am - 5pm

Thursday 10am - 9pm

Saturday 10am - 4pm

Sunday 12pm - 4pm




If you want to mail in your participation package please send it to:


Address to: Dani Crosby

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

72 Queen Street, Civic Centre

Oshawa ON L1H 3Z3

Durham Region Portrait Project form text to copy and paste below.

The first section that is titled "Information that will be used to label each portrait" requests information that I will need to use to identify each portrait in the gallery. This information will serve as a label but also a point of contrast for each piece, where the audience will be given a glimpse of some basic information displayed along side the far more elaborate interpretive portrait of each person.



All other questions and prompts for information and storytelling beyond this section are for you to use or not use as you see fit. You may find some of these questions or prompts useful as starting points for your responses. You may not be interested in answering some of the questions or basing your responses on the prompts. If you feel like telling your story in a different way please feel free to do this in the "Open Space" at the bottom of the package.




I want you to be comfortable as you fill out this package. Take your time and do not worry about responding with too much or too little. Please do not restrain yourself. Do not concern yourself with the possibility that you may frighten or offend me. I am interested in the experience of each response, whatever it may be.




Please remember not to identify yourself by name.


I am interested in protecting the anonymity of all participants. No information containing the use of names will be utilized in this project. Depending on the number of responses I receive I will not be able to utilize all participation packages for the 2019 show.




Information that I need to label each portrait

The following information WILL BE DISPLAYED beside the artwork created from your response.




Gender identification


Cultural background


Religion/Spiritual Beliefs


(optional) One or more key roles you serve in your life





An example of how a participant may choose to provide this information:


Age 56

Gender identification Non-Binary

Cultural background  Ukrainian, French, 3rd generation Canadian

Religion none

One or more key roles you serve in your life parent, truck driver




Optional but very helpful


If you feel comfortable please specify which municipality of Durham Region Ontario you currently live in. This information WILL NOT BE SHARED. I would like to collect this information in order to measure the number of participants from each municipality of Durham Region. This will help ensure that I am working with an equal number of participation forms from each municipality.













The option to share your response anonymously

If you would like me to make your anonymous written and/or audio responses available for the public to experience in the form of a sound and/or vibration installation please indicate below. This option exists for individuals who would like to have their story experienced as an installation that will be created in addition to my portrait interpreting your information. This installation will be created by artist David Bobier. 

All feedback which participants wish to make available for the public to experience in the form of an art installation will be collected and interpreted in ways that are not visual.


If you give permission for your written responses to be available for the public to experience in the form of a non-visual installation place an X between these brackets     [   ]

If you give permission for your audio files to be used directly as part of a non-visual installation place an X between these brackets     [   ]


The option to keep your anonymous written/audio response completely private

If you check between these brackets your written and/or audio responses WILL NOT BE SHARED with any person beyond artist Dani Crosby, who will use you information to inspire interpretive visual portraits ONLY. 

[   ]


The following information you choose to share may be used to inspire a portrait.

Please respond to any of the following questions and prompts

at any length you wish, in any way you wish.




What challenges you most on a daily basis?

What do you wish people who first meet you understood about you that is not immediately noticeable?

(For example I am kinder than my tone of voice implies. I don't like to make eye contact but I am a good listener.)


What parts of yourself do you have a place for in your life?  

(For example I have a place for my aggression and that is in my time spent running, I have a place for my racing mind and that is in my work, I have a place for my sensitivity and that is in the way I make myself emotionally available to friends.) 


What parts of yourself do you struggle to find a place for in your life?

(For example are there emotions, a part of your personality, hopes, dreams, desires that you are not sure how to deal with? For which you do not have an outlet? Are there emotions that seem too silly or frightening to say out loud?)


What are your strongest emotions?


What don’t you feel?


What emotions do you experience most frequently?


What are your most persistent thoughts?


What is your deepest hope?


What is not important?


What is most important?


What do you want that you have never asked for?


What do you find strange?


Look at yourself, what important stories do you associate with different parts of your physical being?


Does your city feel like your home? Why or why not?





Please tell me a story/provide a response that you can relate to any of the following words:
































Open Space


Please use this space to share any information you would like to see interpreted visually into your portrait.

Thank you for sharing with me.