Warrior by spirit

Stacey Evangelou

Artist Statement
Warrior by spirit is a portrait of Joe Williams. Painted in ochre as a display of strength, confidence, spirituality and culture—it reflects the pride of heritage and the resilience of history. The work reveals the strength of spirit and the importance of healing and growth through the old ways—by connecting to a culture that values its lore by living with meaning, knowing how to behave, understanding ourselves, and displaying kindness.

Since first connecting with Joe in 2019, he has shown nothing but forbearance and compassion. By sharing his cultural beliefs and the importance of a healthy spirit, Joe has helped me to learn and grow. This portrait highlights—through empathy, love and understanding to First Peoples’ culture—how we can make a positive impact by listening, learning and respecting.

About the Subject
Joe Williams is a First Nations Wiradjuri/Wolgalu Aboriginal man raised in Wagga Wagga. He has spent a number of years as a professional athlete in the NRL and as a boxer. Joe has lived the majority of his life with Bipolar disorder, addiction and suicidal ideations. On the back of surviving a suicide attempt, he founded the organisation, The Enemy Within. He now dedicates his life to helping those who struggle mentally, emotionally and spiritually through workshops in resilience, trauma recovery, mental health and well-being. Joe has a published autobiography, Defying The Enemy Within and was the winner of the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize.

Further Insight
Stacey Evangelou is a Sydney-based artist. She studied graphic design and interior design, and followed a career in interior design, where she began her pursuit of drawing. Evangelou has recently transitioned to a full-time art practice. Using graphite and charcoal, her hyper-realistic portraits seek to explore human existence through the philosophy of communication—aspiring to emotionally connect the viewer with the subject of her work.

Medium: Charcoal and white chalk on toned paper

Size: 49 cm x 47 cm

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