William Stoehr - Artist Statement

There is this voice in the back of my head constantly whispering. What good is your art? What does it accomplish? Does it matter?

I started to broadly explore victims of violence, bigotry and addiction. Viewers interpreted my work within their own subjective context related to their own experiences - which is what I wanted. But again the voice returned and asked, “How can you honestly relate to these issues?” Well, I can relate to addiction. Not as a victim but as a witness, and I know about stigma.

Stigma suffocates discussion, blocks action, causes pain. I want to use my art to normalize the discussion and to help erase the stigma. My sister OD’d but, maybe to the millions affected, I can be part of a solution. Stigma is the place to start.

With alcohol and drug abuse, it’s never just one person that is impacted. And so the faces I now paint are the faces of all those affected - the victims, witnesses and survivors.