Statement by Shelley Rothenburger
I was sitting in a coffee shop looking outside at the area where one buys transit passes for the Sea Bus in North Vancouver, when I notice a woman stooped over enough to touch her toes. She was wearing a hoodie, no pants and Nike shoes. I could see her underpants as she crouched in this position not moving. I immediately realized that she was an addict in what’s called a “Fenti Nod”. She was very vulnerable deep in a powerful fentanyl high.
In this series, I am working on a representation of addicts I have observed all over the lower mainland of Vancouver (mostly in the east side) in different stages of drug highs. This issue is commonplace in many cities and small towns across North America and beyond and I am compelled to address this visually and blatantly as I see the effects on people regularly outside my studio. It’s a subject and sight that most do not want to acknowledge. I have painted these images, documented by photograph, on Mylar. I have painted them in a raw fashion on an unstable transparent surface. In this context I hope to perhaps to bring a sense of humanity to these suffering people. I have been criticized by some for my photographic intrusion of them but I have had to come to terms with this in order that I might truthfully represent what I see out there.