On Labor Day, 2014 I began a new documentary-style photo essay in collaboration with Dr. Mark Ibsen who owns Urgent Care Plus in Helena, Montana. We are telling a story with photos of his patients, of Mark and of his staff. We aren’t sure what the story will be yet — that will come when we see what the photos are telling us. For now, I am going to be spending time at the clinic and with permission from the patients themselves, documenting their time with this passionate, compassionate healer.
Watch my blog and my Brown Bird Studio Facebook page for progress on the photo essay, and for announcements of an exhibit which we hope to have sometime in the next few months.
Hands can tell so many stories just by themselves. Like eyes, hands are expressions of our history, our struggles and triumphs, our pain, sorrow and celebrations. Hands instruct. They argue. They heal, comfort and can hurt. Here are a few images from this week, from the first batch of photos that really pulled at my heart. I am curious what you think and feel when you see these images.
Thank you for looking and appreciating. I look forward to some dialogue about this project as we continue.
I love my mom so much it makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode. I can feel it in my chest. I feel it in my throat. I feel it in my hands and belly and spine. I know it in my eyes. I know this love in my mind and in my soul.
When I look at her — really look deeply at her — I see her for who she is and not just for who she has been for me.
I love to listen to her stories. I love to support her on my arm as we walk. Wrap my arm around her slender shoulders. Laugh with her. Bring her a cup of tea. Cover her with an extra blanket. Open the car door for her. Share our tears. Share chocolate. Watch her when she doesn’t know I am looking. Wash her hair in the kitchen sink. Cook for her.
I love knowing in the night, that she is snoring gently in a room just a few feet from mine … love knowing she loves me, because when I thanked her for letting me take these portraits of her, and for spending these almost-3-weeks with me, she hugged me and cried. We both cried.
Mom is 82. I feel more deeply connected to her now that I am an adult, than I remember ever feeling as a child. That is not to say I wasn’t close to Mom when I was little — maybe depth of relationship comes with the compression of time, with the way age matters less and less as we grow older. The difference between 80 and 60 is less than between 25 years old and 5.
Today I watched her through my lens. She knew I was looking. She knew my camera would capture every wrinkle and blemish, yet she relaxed and let me pursue something I have wanted for a long time … to capture the elusive portrait of someone who is part of me. Who is so deeply connected to me that when the time comes to let her go it will be the hardest thing I will ever do.
Maybe depth of relationship comes with changes inside me. Changes in that place of rebellion that still burns like a stubborn ember of fire. When I look in the mirror nowadays, I see my facial features softening, melting a little. I look like my mother. I am becoming a beautiful crone. A wise woman. Like her. When I see her through my camera viewfinder, I see myself in 20-some years. And I hope with all my heart, that I am as good and kind and loving a human being as my mom is.
Dear Readers: I appreciate you. For reading my words and for commenting. For looking carefully and engaging with my artwork. For telling me if and how I have touched your hearts. And I hope that somehow I have.
Here is your free calendar for March. These calendars are a gift from me to you because I want you to have something to remind you of a different way of seeing the world around us. And … well, just ‘cuz…
I’d love to know if you find these useful.
The calendars are free for you to download. I will try to post the calendars the first day or two of each month. The only thing I ask is that you use them only for your personal use. Please don’t sell them yourself. And please do tell your friends these are available. Thank you!
If I don’t have the size or proportion of your computer monitor, or if you would like one for a cell phone, please tell me in the comments and I will make one for you and post it here. This month I am posting two versions: the calendar below may be downloaded and printed for your wall or fridge. The one at the top of this post is desktop wallpaper for your computer.
How do I do this? Just right-click to save the image. Let me know in comments if you have any trouble. You can download and print either calendar. Late Winter Cheers from me to you!
I promised to post a gallery of the sled dog photos included in the exhibit, Ancient Bond. So here it is. Each of these is available for purchase as a signed, archival print. (See details below the gallery) Click on the photos to enlarge them. Watermarks are not on the prints.