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Portraits of the Departed

Leonard Cohen - Michael Ellis - Pyragraph
Leonard Cohen by Michael Ellis.

2016 was a rough year. The ground beneath us shifted. The country feels unfamiliar. And of course, many beloved public figures left us. I wanted to draw portraits of luminaries who symbolize the blessings of a free, open society that seems suddenly, tragically, imperiled as the year draws to a close. Sadly, it was a crowded field, but I chose these:

David Bowie for his relentless reinvention of self and his gender fluidity; Elie Wiesel for his struggle for peace, justice and human rights; Gwen Ifill for her clear-eyed journalism; Muhammad Ali for his greatness as an athlete, but also his status as being the best known and most beloved American Muslim. I included Leonard Cohen for personal reasons; my bride and I danced to his “Dance Me to the End of Love” at our wedding. Here’s my prayer that the end of love is a long, long way off. Hallelujah.

 Bowie - Michael Ellis - Pyragraph
David Bowie by Michael Ellis.


Elie Wiesel - Michael Ellis - Pyragraph
Elie Wiesel by Michael Ellis.


Gwen Ifill - Michael Ellis - Pyragraph
Gwen Ifill by Michael Ellis.


Muhammad Ali - Michael Ellis - Pyragraph
Muhammad Ali by Michael Ellis.

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