Holding on-- Part III in the Series

In the past week, I have taken photographs of additional models for this series.  The variety of objects that people bring to the photo shoots are surprising, as unique as each individual who poses for me.  The things we hold onto say as much about the person who has kept them as they do about the person they originally belonged to.  They are steeped in memory and nostalgia, connections not only to the people we have lost, but also to the people we were at the time before we lost them, connections to that time of innocence.  


Mary Ann:  My Grandmother's Figurine

Cyndi:  My Father's Book and HIs College Ring

Kevin:  My Grandfather's Watch (which was passed down to my brother and then, after his death, to my mother, and then to me after her death)

Pam and Paul:  Our Son's Dogtags

Carol:  Joe's Book

November:  My Dad's Watch and the Bracelet Containing His Ashes

Pam:  My Sister-in-Law's Bracelet

Mary Ann:  Mr. Carrot, My Dog, Clovis', Favorite Toy

jj:  My Grandmother's Figurine

Faye:  My Father's School Bell (which I also used when I was an elementary school teacher)

Kim:  My Mother's Strawberry Pin

Anne:  My Son, Ryan's, Sweatshirt

As one friend said recently, the objects only have meaning if we ascribe it to them.  In and of themselves, they are simply material objects.  Yet they come to embody the very memories and connections we seek to preserve.  

Until next time...


Holding on-- Part II

In the past week, I have taken additional photographs of other people holding onto objects that speak of their losses.  And in mining my own box of treasures, I found a few items that belonged to members of my family who have long since departed.  Some of the new photographs are associated with the literal death of beloved person; in one case, the photograph involves the figurative death of an abusive spouse/marriage.  Loss does not always equate with physical death.  Anything that profoundly changes us, causes grief and heartache, that divides our lives into "before" and "after" is a loss.  Loss is something we never "get over," but rather something we learn to live with.  

Dan:  My Mother's Pearls

In this photograph, my husband is holding some incredibly gorgeous pearls that belonged to my mother-in-law, Audrey, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting.

Anne:  Great-Grandma Blanche's Rosary

This photograph shows me holding a rosary that ,was given to me by my great-grandmother Blanche, when I was seven years old.  She died not long after that.

Paige:  Mama's Necklace

The photograph above shows the hands of a little girl (about age 7), whose mother died when she was just shy of 6 months of age.

Tami:  Wedding Ring

This photograph represents the losses associated with an abusive marriage.

Steve:  Ryan's Guitar

This photograph depicts a father, my former husband, holding onto the guitar that had belonged to our son, who died at age 18.

Dan:  The Mourner's Kaddish from My Father's Funeral

In this photograph, my husband is holding onto the prayer booklet from his father, Sam's, funeral.

Robin:  A Tape of My Sister Singing

The woman in this photograph is holding onto a tape of her sister's voice, something most precious to her.  The memory of a loved one's voice fades much too quickly.  

Steve:  Gramps' Pliers

This photograph shows a man holding onto pliers that belonged to his dear grandfather, whom he was especially close to.  Those old pilers are still being used to this day.

Anne:  Gold Star Pin for Uncle Carroll

This gold star pin was given to my great-grandmother, Esther, by the US government after her son, my great uncle, Carroll, was killed in World War II on D-Day.  My grandmother passed it on to me last year.  It is a treasured bit of family history.

Each object portrayed in each photograph is steeped in memory, imbued with emotion.  Healthy grieving involves connecting with those memories and allowing oneself to feel the emotions associated with them.  

These photographs also demonstrate one of the ways we live with loss:  Holding on while letting go.

Until next time...








Holding On-- New Series

I am working on a new series, personal narratives of loss, which I am entitling "Holding On."  This series focuses on the things we hang onto after losing someone who has been important in our lives.  Loss touches everyone, and the longer we live, the more we are touched. 

The photographs in this series are simple, only hands cradling an object that once belonged to someone beloved.  I am interested in the relationships we create with these objects, in the sacred significance we place on them.  They remain a connection to the people we have loved, and holding on to objects owned or used by those we have lost is a way of holding on to the people themselves.  We look at these inanimate items, and we see the people we love and miss, we remember their influence on our lives. 

These first photos in the series are of my hands holding objects that belonged to my dad, Tony, my son, Ryan, and my great-grandmother, Esther.  There are other people whom I have lost, like my grandpa Al, but in doing this project, I realize I have nothing tangible that once belonged to them.

Tony's Watch

Ryan's Sunglasses

Grandma Esther's earrings

Ryan's Driver's License

This post is a call for others interested in being a part of this series and sharing their stories of loss through art. I am interested in hands of all sizes, skin tones, shapes, and ages-- the more diversity, the better. If you live close to where I do (southern Illinois) and would like to participate in this project, please contact me via email.  Click on the "Contact Me" link on this website or send me a message via facebook.  

It is my intention to create a powerful and beautiful body of art, exploring a theme universal to our human existence.  I would really appreciate adding your story to mine.

Until next time...