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The Beat #28: Somber, Stoic, Spiritual, Stubborn

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Emotions Made Visible

This week, we are fortunate to feature masterful portraits from artist Gigi Leung with copy from her longtime collaborator, writer Barbara Kerbel. Gigi chose to show us the embodiment of emotions in these striking faces, and Kerbel melds the seriousness of the images with humanity and gentle humor.


He’s thinking, pondering, and has the look of a philosopher thinking deep thoughts. But there is a world-weary somberness about him. His knit brows betray his worries, his long beard a testament of what? Surely not a style statement; maybe he thinks it makes him look wise. Maybe he just doesn’t want the bother of the razor. Oh, the food his hairy appendage must collect. Wishing him happier thoughts.


At first glance, stoicism is what this woman’s face communicates – that she can endure pain or hardship without showing her feelings. Beyond stoicism, her face silently says, “I am resolute. I am strong. I will not be fooled.” Look a little longer, though, and see that her mask does gently reveal more, perhaps, than she would like.


She holds within her the spirits of many generations. You can see them – and the pain her people endured embedded in every wrinkle, none of which hides her beauty or camouflages her wisdom and strength. Hers is a portrait that draws you back and back again to get to know her better. It would be wonderful to hear her laugh.


“The child is,” William Wordsworth said in My Heart Leaps Up, “father to the man.” He was referring to his reaction at seeing a rainbow in the sky. Does the same hold true for temperament? This man may have been a stubborn child, or life may have sculpted his disposition. Still, it is preferable to think of him as stubborn rather than pugnacious or irascible, both of which might apply.


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