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Children are Dependents on Parents' Policies

Theresa BrownGold's painting "Chidren as Dependents on Parents' Insurance Policies" for her art project, Art As Social Inquiry.

(Interview 7/2009. Oil on canvas, 40 ins. x 30 ins.)

How it started...

Update 2021

Alex was one of my very first subjects for ASI's Healthcare in the US painting series. I was still getting to know my brushes. I went on intuition and instinct. I really love the final portrait. I'm happy to be able to feel that way 13 years after I painted it. It's a raw, real painting over which I had no control. I did not have control of most of my paintings back then. But I knew when I hit on something like a dart hitting a bull's eye. This painting works for me.

Alex painted old. I remember thinking I had to try to get Alex's old soul to recede a bit. A former art teacher told me my natural tendency is to exaggerate features. I had never thought about it before he pointed out my penchant. I remembered his comment when I struggled to bring out more of Alex's teenage self. I saw that I had elongated the neck and started there.

I laugh when I look at the actual story I wrote for this portrait. Well...story would be a stretch. I don't say much. My ignorance and naiveté are metaphors for the country's very same ignorance about how our health insurance and healthcare system work.

If this were a tell-all, I'd have one more thing to admit. The 24" x 20" study pictured below makes me squirm a bit. I can hear my teachers' voices when I look at it. "White is not light!" Every time I wanted to paint a highlight, I reached for yellow instead. Experience has taught me how to use the color white now...and I no longer hear my teachers' voices.

I think the study works as a painting. That's why I include it in this story. And another thing, since this paragraph is sprinkled with truth serum, I could not get the mouth no matter how much I tried. This young man was very civic-minded. I thought I could represent his caring with the American flag. These paintings of Alex are like children I bore as a very young mother -- artistically speaking. They are special. The paintings don't pretend to be clever or pretty. But they are truthful like a child's candor.


The Affordable Care Act states that children under 26 years old may stay on their parents' workplace insurance. Many parents of adult children added them back onto their workplace health insurance plans. Employers are not required to pay the child's portion of the premium. Some do in full or in part.

If a family's income falls within eligibility guidelines, working parents may insure their children through federal/state joint programs, CHIP and Medicaid.


A study. Oil on canvas, 40 ins. x 30 ins.

(from a 2009 interview)

High School Student, age 16, Insured

Alex has health insurance. His mother is employed as a network administrator for the state of New Jersey. Her job gives her a health benefit. Alex is listed as a dependent on her health insurance policy.


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