Project info

Although I was very close with my mother, I never knew how strong and brave she was until I joined her in living with cancer. Loving, funny, smart, creative, empathic, and generous in so many ways, my mother found joy and beauty in small and unusual things, and she expressed gratitude and appreciation with ease.

My mother was also a worrier and someone who was prone to self-infantilizing and doubting her own ability or efficacy, often claiming that certain types of things "scared" her or were "too complicated". However, this was not how my mother lived with cancer or handled and responded to the hardships, struggles, and management of her disease.

Instead, she dealt with all of her treatments, appointments, forms, phone calls, medications, side effects and daily duties with grace and confidence while continuing to work, spend time with her family, socialize with her friends, make art, and attend cultural events. She continued to experience joy, find beauty, and express gratitude; she was never bitter and rarely complained, instead making jokes about things such as the weight of her wig or what had become the daily battle of putting on and taking off her socks.

My mother never gave up or gave in, and she did not want us to worry about her. But despite her tenacity, determination, and courage, I knew how worried and scared my mother was, not only about herself and her future, but perhaps even more so about the ways in which her illness and it's progression would effect her family. And maybe this is the reason why she was as strong and brave as she was until the very end.

In the portraits I have selected for this submission, I hope to impart the poignant blend of strength and vulnerability in my dear, sweet mother and that exists in and between all of us as well. These particular photos of my mother were not originally taken with any deliberate creative intention, and as personal as these images are to me, I believe that they have the ability to authentically touch the viewer, too, as they embody themes and emotions that are common to us all, and as such, they ignite empathy. The meaning that the viewer brings to, makes, and takes from the experience of interacting with these portraits is part of what gives them life.

The descriptions that accompany these photographs are there to serve as context (especially since they are submitted as individual images rather than as a series); it is my hope, however, that the images speak for themselves in their own way and translate just as meaningfully if not more so without the accompaniment of words.