What We Leave Behind 11/12/2015

cyanotype portrait

The Nest, Cyanotype on Fabric

My 88 year old parents are dealing with memory loss and dementia. I have been watching them disappear before my eyes for quite some time. When they decided to move out of state to my brother’s home after living close by for 13 years I felt a need to capture the loss I was feeling, to document this major event. I had recently been to a photo gathering (Shootapalooza) where we as a group created a mural size cyanotype on fabric. It was the first time I became aware of the availability of pre-treated cyanotype fabric by the yard. I decided to experiment with it. 

At first I thought I would simply do a series of large scale pieces using many of the things they were leaving behind. Then I decide to incorporate my parents themselves into the pieces. My parents were willing models. Because of their age and the mobility issue of getting up and down off the ground I explored other options and came up with the idea of using a queen size bed on wheels. It was placed in my garage. The fabric was placed on the bed, my parents placed on the fabric and then they were wheeled out into the sun for a 10-15 minute exposure.

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They were wheeled back into the garage and if a second exposure was necessary to add dimension to the first image, they got off the bed and I added various things to the space where they had been laying. I then wheeled the bed back out for a shorter second exposure. This all took place in my driveway on a busy street in my town and beside a walking path. Never once did anyone stop and ask what I was doing. As a matter of fact no one seemed to think it was strange to see two elderly people lying on a bed in a driveway with music playing. (I often played music for them, mostly the Tony Bennett Station on Pandora as he is my mom's favorite.)

After the shoot while I was rinsing the fabric in the bathtub, my folks sat on the back porch enjoying the gardens and birds, sipped fruit smoothies and ate pastries from the local bakery. It was a very difficult time for me to anticipate their leaving but these lovely shared afternoons lessened the pain and sadness. It was also a stressful time for my mom who does not like change. As the time of the move grew closer, the anxiety of it all overwhelmed my mom so she would no longer leave their home even to make a large portrait that she enjoyed doing. I had many more ideas for pieces I wanted to create and I am continuing those using the clothes and items that they left behind. 

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Spooning and Dinner Plate Series Installation

In addition to the large scale pieces I have created a Dinner Plate Series. Using my parents’ dishes and silverware I created cyanotype pieces and added image transfers to them. The photos are some that I took as well as old family photos. Some of these were made into placemats and are part of a table installation. The table cloth was created by contact printing a hand crocheted bedcovering made by my great grandmother onto cyanotype fabric. I will be adding more pieces to this series as I complete them and get them photographed. More images can be viewed in the gallery section of my website. More Images

cyanotype portrait

The Embrace ~ Dinner Plate Series


cyanotype portrait 

 Gramp and Nana
(My great grandmother who crocheted the bedspread used in the making of the tablecloth for the table installation.)


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