Not only did I have the most amazing experience at the Golden Door spa, but I also learned something about my Perspective Sketches. I realized after my second presentation that I had left out an important aspect of the sketch interviews. I interviewed the guests at the Golden Door just like I had in the Real Beauty Sketches (RBS) video. I interviewed a total of 12 guests during Women’s Week. Ten of them were self-describers and four of them described other guests. This was the first time I had conducted my Perspective Sketches in a spa setting. About half of the women were familiar with the RBS experience and all of them were eager to see their sketches on Friday evening. My presentation was held in the lounge area adjacent to the dining hall. I had all of the sketches taped on a white board placed at the front of the room. As some of the women walked in I could hear them giggling and making comments about the sketches. The Golden Door (GD) staff member introduced me and I started my presentation about the sketch interviews I had conducted on Wednesday and Thursday. We talked about the sketches and how they resembled the women--after 40 minutes it was over and the guests walked out with their autographed sketches.
The following Sunday a new group of guests arrived for the Co-Ed Vintner’s Week – a unique event for the Golden Door and an amazing opportunity for me and my wife. The orientation meeting kicked off and Pauline, the GD director, introduced me to the group along with an invitation to sign-up to be a part of my Perspective Sketches event. Pauline told me the next day that four guests had signed up to be a part of my PS experience. Since I was a guest that week, the four guests were told to avoid talking with me; so sunglasses and large hats were in order. I didn’t know it at the time, but they enjoyed keeping their distance from me and found it rather amusing. The presentation was well received and the guests were amazed at resemblances in the sketches. However, there was something missing in my presentation, and I didn’t realize it until I spoke with Ivy.
Ivy, one of the women I sketched, asked to speak with me about the whole experience the following day. She said that she had enjoyed the experience and thought the sketch turned out great but she thought she should have shared more during the presentation. Ivy suggested that the next time I should meet with the PS guests one-on-one before revealing the sketches so they’d have more time to process the results of the sketch interview. She was right! In the RBS video the ‘real women’ viewed the sketches in front of me and we were able to talk about it. Aside from the cameraman, who was over my shoulder, the communication we had was organic and for a few minutes we were talking about real issues that had come up because of the sketches. These women had time to process their feelings about the sketches right in front of me without an audience to worry about. Ivy had touched on something I had overlooked in the Perspective Sketches experience: the act of self-reflection.
I have received hundreds of emails from people telling me how the RBS video touched their lives and how it gave them a chance to look at themselves and embrace the person they are; while others spoke about the need to tell their mothers and daughters that they thought they were more beautiful; confessing that they may have taken them for granted for so many years. I responded to every one of them and thanked them for sharing their stories. I know that empathy and acknowledgment is important when you are dealing with honest communication, and it has been a part of who I am as a forensic artist since 1995. Whatever the case may be it was interesting for the world to see what I see on a regular basis as a forensic artist: the vulnerability of people in their most trying time and their struggle to gather information from their memories. Many times my 45-minute sketch interview sessions turned out to be, for many, a catharsis of emotion and memory. Although the RBS video didn’t show real women experiencing a trying event like I see with victims of crimes, I believe the director; John X. Carey, did a masterful job of capturing the intimacy of the interview and the honest exchange when viewing the sketch. I believe the millions of Internet viewers who saw the RBS video saw themselves as the real women, or they saw their wives, sisters, aunts, mothers, and friends. It gave everyone a moment to stop and think about how they see themselves and others.
Talking to the men and women at the Golden Door was a new endeavor for my Perspective Sketches and me. Thanks to Ivy, from now on I’ll make sure the one-on-one discussion about self-reflection will always be a part of my Perspective Sketches experience.