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Samantha Belden

Nominated by Columbia College Chicago

 

Helen,

Your flowers bend with age. Your curtains collect dust as your home shifts into another. You sit, simply watching television and telling me you’ve been waiting for this moment of retirement your whole life. You are a single mother to two daughters and a grandmother to four grandchildren. I photograph you and you let me to continue to photograph. It is hard for me to describe why I take pictures of you. I can say I’m interested in aging. I can say I’m interested in the idea of the familial. These statement are all true, but there is also a desire, a need. A need to document you. To continuously document you again and again. I cannot stop, because of my anxieties that come with aging, your aging and my own. I have a need to remember and keep these moments, to have these accumulated memories of you and our experiences, for you will not be around forever.

I have been photographing my grandmother for over two years. Throughout these past years I have been documenting my grandmother and her space as it continues to shift and change. I have realized the act of photographing her is my way of preserving our past and our family history as I consider the inevitable future. In my project Helen I am able to show an intimacy and vulnerability that comes with aging and the familial. I am interested in how family relationships, physicalities of bodies and spaces, and emotional states are constantly shifting as humans age through life. As I think about these topics there will always be the driving factor of the necessity I feel to photograph my own grandmother, to document and preserve her as our lives continue.

Image: Grandma Cutting her Hair (inkjet print), 2015
 

Resident year: 
2016
Cohort Group: 
Artist Resident