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Artist looking to turn your stories into portraits

Oshawa artist Dani Crosby is looking to take people’s submitted stories and turn them into abstract portraits like the one above. (Images courtesy of Dani Crosby)

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Dani Crosby

A single person’s life is filled with countless stories. Some of them happy, some of them sad, some exciting and  other times tragic; for one local artist, those stories can be the gateway to something bigger, and she’s looking to channel that idea into her latest project.

Dani Crosby, an Oshawa native and Durham College art instructor, wants residents to share their stories so she can turn them into portraits. And those stories can be about anything at all.

“There’s literally no wrong way to respond to my project, which is the good part,” Crosby says. “I love and really appreciate all the stories people tell me on a daily basis and I learn from them, it helps me grow, but I feel like if it stops there, I almost lose those stories. So the idea of taking those stories that force you to challenge your perspectives and acknowledge other people’s lives and the details there and putting it into art, sort of preserves it and also makes those stories accessible to other people.”

While an abstract idea, it is grounded in a real simple concept for Crosby of creating art that invites the community to be a part of it.

“For me, I get a lot from good, strong communication with other people and their stories,” she says. “I don’t benefit from perpetually isolating myself and focusing on my own ideas and my own perspectives. I really like the challenge of other people’s stories.”

With that said, she recognizes the challenge. While having created the first portrait of herself using her own stories, she knows looking at the emotions and perspectives people share in their stories will take some work to put on canvas.

“That’s part of the challenge is showing the juxtaposition of experiences and perceptions and emotions that exist within one human being, that’s an important thing for me,” she says.

Currently, Crosby has an open call for people to submit their stories, and she urges that there is no wrong way to go about this. The story can be about anything and the person can remain completely anonymous.

The portraits, to be painted on five-by-seven foot pieces of fabric with acrylic paint and ink, will be on display in an exhibition at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in the fall of 2019 alongside fellow artist David Bobier.

To date, Crosby has received a multitude of stories, ranging all across the emotional spectrum.

“They’ve already moved me through an incredible range of emotion. There have been challenging subject matter, heart-wrenching subject matter, joyful subject matter,” she says.

Those interested can participate through an online forum ( over the next two months, following which Crosby says she will be collecting them all and really sitting down to digest them.

More information on the project and a participaiton form can also be found on Crosby’s website at