ELIZABETH– Marquis McNeill always viewed himself in a positive light, even as much of the world saw an at-risk youth moving through the foster care system.
On Sept. 13, many others will be able to see McNeill as he sees himself when his digital self-portrait will be one of 70 displayed at the 40th anniversary celebration of ANCOR, the American Network of Community Options and Resources, being held at the Smithsonian’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for Art and Portraiture.
ANCOR represents more than 800 providers of community supports and services to more than 500,000 people with disabilities, including at-risk youth. Community Access Unlimited, which serves people with disabilities and at-risk youth, is a member of the network.
ANCOR chose to solicit self-portraits from members of the organizations it serves to allow people with disabilities and at-risk youth to enable others to see them through their own eyes, thereby reinforcing their value as contributing members of society.
McNeill’s contributions to society include his work at CAU serving as a mentor for people with disabilities and his job at a local mall as he prepares for a career in graphic design and web site design and maintenance. He plans to become certified in web site design, gain work experience and open his own business.
This positive outlook and self-confidence served as the seed for McNeill’s self-portrait, which he produced digitally on his computer.
“I like making stuff,” he said. “I thought the idea of having a poster of myself on the wall would be cool.”
McNeill first developed an interest in graphic design in the eighth grade and has been teaching himself ever since.
“I had already been (working in) HTML,” he said. “I had been fooling around with coding on the Internet. It all fell into place. I fell in love with it. It’s fun, it relieves stress, it allows me to express myself.”
That was exactly the intent of ANCOR’s call for self-portrait submissions to mark its 40th anniversary, according to Renee Pietrangelo, chief executive officer of the association.
“The remarkable energy, diversity and creativity of the pieces underscore the value of supporting community integration and self-expression for everyone,” she said.
This self-portrait by Marquis McNeill of Community Access Unlimited will one of 70 being displayed at the Smithsonian’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for Art and Portraiture as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of ANCOR, the American Network of Community Options and Resources.
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