Winter Had Come
I have an interest in the process of photographic compositing. Recently, four aspects of my life have coalesced to bring forth this photographic series representative of our times, “Winter Had Come.”
“We would like to place your mother in hospice.” Hearing this sentence should come as no surprise. My 86-year-old mother, Julia, has been in a nursing home for the past decade. This past April, she contracted COVID-19 and has not made a recovery. I have only seen her twice since the outbreak. I was informed that I will not be able to see her until she is close to her last breath. Over a month has now passed since I received the call and presently, Julia is still with us.
It has become a family tradition, as autumn chills to winter, that I read aloud a chapter from my favorite novel, Bambi, by Felix Salten (not to be confused with the Disney version.) The chapter is a beautifully written allegory that describes a touching conversation between the last two leaves hanging precariously on their branch as winter fast approaches. Every year I read it to my family, and every year, I cry. This year, the words resonate more deeply than ever.
I have been photographing weathered buildings in Detroit for the past ten years. The decaying buildings—eroded and abandoned—become the canvas for words and imagery of days long gone melding with those of the present day. Time-worn and transformed, these structures denote beauty and universal resilience, revealing a quiet sense of dignity and poise amidst ruin. Their stories are concealed and revealed between layers of paint, evocative of our own bodies. These discoveries manifest into a personal metaphor, reflecting upon the physical transformations that embody my own aging.
Running four miles nearly every day has become a practice I began to keep my mental health in check since the nascent days of the pandemic. I look forward to this time as an opportunity for inspiration, meditation, solitude, and gratitude. Oftentimes, I take home a symbol from the run, such as a feather or a leaf, to remind myself of the day’s intent.
Together, these images of buildings, juxtaposed with images of Julia and me, fallen leaves, and text from the novel Bambi intertwine to become “Winter Had Come.” The process of assembling this very introspective series of symbols and metaphors became the cathartic means for me to reflect and honor the lonely journey on which my mother has unwittingly embarked.