For Valentine's Day, D.C. Artists Reflect on Love

For our February community event, we're hosting The Loving Market to support local nonprofits in Washington, D.C. dedicated to love-themed causes. It includes an online auction, pop-up shop (with a scheduled panel discussion and craft-making activity), art exhibit and evening reception, all to benefit Becky's Fund and Break the Cycle, which both advocate for freedom from domestic violence, and HIPS, which supports sex workers' health and well-being. To all of our participating artists, we posed one simple question: What does "love" mean to you?

See what they had to say below - and if you're interested in a piece, click on the image and place a bid on their work in our online auction:

Dafna Steinberg

In my mind, love is not a simply one emotion. It is complex. It has levels. And it can be a source of great pain. There is an ache that many feel, a need to "be loved" and that ache can sometimes lead us to more harm than good. A lot of my work is about that ache and the paths it leads us down.











Elisa Rafter

Love to me is the individual's need to connect and feel connected to another. In doing so bonding to share in each other's joy and sadness, giving yourself to that person so that he/she becomes a part of you and you a part of him/her.

Emily Greene Liddle

My work is the hue-soaked advertisement and commentary on the human condition and experience. While the subject matter may initially appear light and playful, its content plays on deeper themes of contrast and contradiction in form, function, and perception in modern pop culture. The unusual pairings often evoke themes of sexuality, vulnerability, temptation, consequence, and danger--all unfortunate side effects of the thing we so endearingly call “LOVE”. Of course Love has moved mountains and crossed the seas, but Love has also caused death and destruction in the name of it. Our reality is somewhere in between: beautiful, invigorating, and lush, but imperfect and scarred along the way.
















Gregg Deal

When I think of love, I first think of my family. My wife and my children embody all that I am and want to be. I think this statement is true in friends as well, and one that someone, somewhere can relate to in some capacity. When you tear down all the crap, you only have your bare bones left, and that usually means your loved ones.


Greg Slade

I think that love is a genuine feeling of endearment for another living thing. Love is expressed in many different ways and sex wouldn't be close to the pinnacle of the definition. The ability to care for something unconditionally and contribute in its well being, to have a genuine sense of warmth when something is growing and maturing gracefully, flourishing. To take pride in the integrity of something, admiring its value and potential,coming with all of its perfect imperfections. In short, the desire to see someone or something do well in the life in which we inhabit: Unconditional implementations and exchanges of well being.

color-conduit garden refuge

J'Nell Jordan

My work is all about people and all about connections. I only paint from photographs I connect with, so in a sense they can be a form of self portraits in which I identify with or wish to identify with. I usually connect with their body language, or expression, because it remind me of a place in time that I once was or gives me some sort of nostalgic and familiar feeling. I don't usually know the people in the photographs I collect, and paint from, but I do see myself in them. You kind of have to see yourself in what/who you paint, because it is such an intimate activity. I think Love is acceptance, understanding and compassion towards another. To some degree, I think one must see themselves in the other person. When you self reflect, and learn to love yourself with all your imperfections and flaws, it makes it easier to love and empathize with others.

Live In Shanghai_JNellJordan (1)Copper Kisses _JNellJordan (1)Babydoll_JNellJordan (1)










Jack Labadie

I've felt the love in my life since day one. I'm lucky to have been surrounded by great friends & an incredible family who have supported me & my artistic drive. On top of that, I'm in a wonderful relationship with the loveliest little lady named Emily.  She inspires me everyday & I’ve been able to tell in my work.  Whether it is the subjects of my work or just the general approach & view of my pieces, I can feel a warmth & substance that wasn’t there before.  I have a heavy understanding for themes of ‘love’, I like to share that in my work.














Julian Lytle

I think love is a complicated emotion that we constantly struggle with trying to understand but we need live. Some of us try to fight it, some of jumps at any glimmer of it, some never find and some are lucky to have it at least once.

Max Kazemzadeh

"I think that in a kiss, one finds something too deep to joke about."

Mia Robinson

"Love is passion and endless play. It's following your heart and your dreams, no matter where they may lead you. Love is spontaneous, adventurous, and playful. It is present and open--embracing the ease and the challenge. AND, love is mobile. With that in mind, we ought to ALL be moving around and infusing everything we do with it!

My pieces are all infused with that kind of love. It is how I generally describe my art--from mediums I use (mobile devices) to my painting process and subject matter. I try to be playful and spontaneous. I try use new approaches. I almost never have a clue as to where it will end up. The messy brush strokes, textures and colors are all a result of me just loving to draw and paint. Being able to draw on my iPad also makes my passion accessible and available to me at all times. It allows me to be in a constant mode of ""love"".

My overall view on love and how it relates to my art is very simple: ""If I love the process...I'll love the piece. "" And I hope you do too. <3"

Paul Mericle

Love is like war, easy to start, but very hard to stop.


I believe love is the foundation for all things that live in spiritual peace. I have created some of my greatest works while painting in a state of spiritual state peace. In some of my more familiar paintings I often incorporate symbols and icons of love. Using things such as hearts and red tented colors to create the feeling of love and peace.