This will be the subject of a future photography project, once Torso is complete, but I wanted to get my thoughts down.
I have always loved photography. It fascinated me even as a child looking through little snippets of life in family albums. I would invent dialogues in my head to accompany them, even when I knew the reality was quite different.
But something changed in me around junior high. I shut down and became afraid to want. I was convinced that it would do no good, as I would never get what it was that I wanted anyway, so why want at all. It was no mere coincidence that it was also around this time when I became very angry.
My anger was directed at my father and anything connected with him. I would become infuriated when my family said I looked like him or that I had this trait or that trait of his. To me this was an insult for to me, at that time, my father was a violent monster who was the last person I wanted to be like.
My father loved photography so I abandoned it; that way I wouldn’t be like him. I abandoned my writing (except for journaling) as well, because it was something that I wanted to be good at (although I didn’t know it then) and I didn’t want to be disappointed yet again when it was taken from me.
My grandmother would tell me that I was too smart to write and I should look into doing something practical for work. She never said a career; it was always “work” or a “job”.
I suppressed these potential passions until both my grandmother and my father died six months apart during my senior year of college. This began my journey of understanding and forgiveness. It also was one of discovering who I am. That lady I am still learning about and probably will be until my death.
It took me a long time to come to terms with my violent past, to understand that my father wasn’t just a monster but a victim as well. He was broken long before I came to be and my presence was not and could not be the cure for his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Through this journey my mental and emotional awakening was followed by a physical one — cancer. For most people cancer leads to fear and worry. For me it was a release. It allowed me to give myself permission to “want” to not only find my passions, but to pursue them.
Cancer taught me how to let go –
Cancer taught me how to forgive –
Cancer taught me how to embrace life.
I want to explore the meaning of “embrace” in a project that takes the audience through a mother’s first embrace of her child to our final embrace of the inevitable.
I’m not sure how it will take shape yet but I anticipate finishing Torso
By the end of summer and begin fleshing out “Embrace” in the fall.