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GRAFTON

I recently sat down with Grafton Nunes, President of The Cleveland Institute of Art, to talk about our two previous portrait sessions (August 2017 and November 2018)  and I suspected we'd have a lot to catch up on. He and I have been trying to review his latest portraits for months and months, but "things" kept getting in the way. 

In July 2010, after Grafton assumed his leadership role at CIA, he starting growing his edgy beard and then, his cool long hair.  It fit his brand as president of a well-respected art school. 

Under Grafton's leadership CIA has thrived. Enrollment has risen consistently, the unified campus has been a huge success, and the midwest's leading art and design school's endowment continues to grow. On the surface all seemed perfect and Grafton's confident poses from August 2017, in his classic Cuban fedora, suggested just that.
I thought I'd captured his essence...an effortless smile and an easygoing spirit.  But there were a few portraits from that evening where Grafton just didn't seem as relaxed.  I'd wondered why.
MATTERS OF THE HEART

Unbeknownst to many, Grafton's marriage had been faltering. And then, a routine checkup would reveal an arterial blockage that would necessitate immediate heart surgery. He'd need to shave his beard for surgery, and decided to shear his hair, too.

"This was a really scary time for me. First they'd need to stop my heart and lungs while working on my heart, and then ultimately restart my heart. All while under anesthesia. I realized that anything could happen."

GRAFTON HEALED

Several months post-op, Grafton approached me about a follow-up portrait session.  He asked for a "Grafton Sheared" session, one sure to capture his renewed essence. 

A CHANGED PERSON

The "new" Grafton wears no beard nor long hair. 

"I'm a different person today. I'm more calm than ever. I appreciate people. I recognize the importance of being myself.  I don't have time to spend being inauthentic."
HOPE AND OPTIMISM

Despite one more curveball, a treatable cancer, Grafton is hopeful and optimistic about what his future will bring. "I'm going to be happy because I want to be. Every single minute is a joyful experience for me."  As his body restores, his heart is healed on many levels...physically, and by a new chapter of love. 
FAMILY MATTERS

Grafton thought of his family during this meditative pose.  He has six children. One of his children, Matthew (below), lives with Grafton and is a student at CIA. Another son, James, is living with them this summer while working on an internship. 

Though sheared in some ways, Grafton is stronger, healthier, and richer. He's moving forward to lead CIA in even greater directions and to continue to surround himself with those he loves.

EACH DAY IS A GIFT.
WE ALL HAVE A STORY.

LET MY PHOTOGRAPHS TELL YOURS.

 
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