Step into the creative world of Guy Woodard. As a masterful illustrator, Guy teaches Fortune participants how to render their hopes and dreams through art. Like a good dream, a proper rendering must have a memorable beginning— in fact, the first art technique Guy shares with his students is the one-point perspective. “Start from one point,” he says, “everything will come from that one point.”
For his students at Fortune, this first lesson is powerful: it transforms wishes into tangible reminders. Under Guy’s instruction, they draw the apartment they hope to have, the communities they find acceptance in, and the items that express their tastes. This creative process not only helps them envision paths forward, but often changes their outlook on art.
“They were rushing out the door [in the beginning]. Now, it gets to [the end of class] and we’re trying to kick them out,” Guy jokes.
That’s the charming power of art, a charm Guy fell in love with at a young age: “I could draw before I could write,” he shares. Simple profiles of faces morphed into elaborate boats and houses, then his parents’ signatures. “To me, it was art,” Guy notes, “especially my mother’s. She had this frilly [handwriting].” This knack for duplication unfortunately led to a path of criminal justice involvement, but a fateful encounter with Fortune founder David Rothenberg introduced Guy to more productive and fulfilling possibilities for his talent.
Shortly after being released from incarceration, Guy found himself in challenging circumstances. Like many formerly incarcerated individuals, he faced difficulty securing permanent housing, and was forced to live in a shelter. Guy did, however, listen to David’s former radio show, Any Saturday, on WBAI-FM in New York. Intrigued by David’s artistic sensibility, Guy woke up early one morning and went to share his art with him. David was captivated by Guy’s work, and introduced him to The Fortune Society’s services, where he secured housing and his current job role. It was just the assistance he needed to thrive. “Along the way I’ve gotten a lot of help,” he shares, “I never asked for help before. It’s still not that easy to ask for it, but I certainly…am thankful for it.”
Now, Guy pays it forward by showing others the power of creativity. By creating an open space for each student to find their own artistic path, he open up new worlds of opportunity: “It’s amazing how they express themselves,” he says, “They’re all different.”