Fifty years ago, I became a strong woman. I didn’t know it then, but I see it now. My mother was debilitated by mental illness. At ten, I was not ready to be the parent in our relationship. Being alone was better. I was relieved when she went to the hospital for months, then years. My solitude became a haven where I could learn independence. My skin became thick; my emotions stoic. I was strong minded; strong willed; just strong.
These self-portraits celebrate solitude and strength. In solitude, I find a place to think, a place to be free, a place of comfort. In solitude I am strong.
Fashion Plate is an artistic collaboration with my mother. It started before I was born, and was finished after she left this world. I have incorporated my mother’s drawings with my photography, creating a digital compilation of our work.
It began in the late 1940s. Maxine Cobert was a fashion illustrator in Chicago IL for iconic retailers such as Mandel Brothers, Marshall Fields and Chas A Stevens. The post war style of full skirts and cinched waists redefined fashion. Maxine captured the trend with the stroke of her pen. She was young and talented. She stayed up late into the night with her colleagues, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, while they created drawing after drawing to meet their deadlines. It was a hopeful and exciting time for the young woman named as “Von Steuben’s Fashion Plate” in her high school yearbook.
As I examined each of Maxine’s drawings, I was transported back to a time I never knew. I imagined it as a world of mystery and glamour. Her drawings have confidence, flair, and a certain je ne sais quoi. They beckoned me to place them in a world I know now and give them life once again.
I am an urban soul. Chicago excites and invigorates my whole being. The architecture, the lake, the parks, the people; each has a story to tell, a history, and a future. I can only capture a point in time to savor it with my photos; to enjoy the Chicago I have grown to know and love.
Life with Sticky Fingers
Just watch a child and how they embrace and enjoy all the senses to life. The joy in seeing a rabbit in the yard; the wonderful carefree swing on a summer day; the taste of blue frosting licked off the cupcake; or the feel of a new rock found at the beach. Sticky fingers won't stop a child from getting the most out of every minute of every day. In fact, sticky fingers just seem to make everything better.
Throughout life, I have found that I must wear a "mask" at times. At work, I needed to conform to a certain style of communication. At other times, I have had to wear a strong face for others who may have needed my strength. I am now exploring how a simple mask can take on different personalities.
A glimmer of light. An open door. The outside world in sight.
As I walked through Dachau, the ovens, the gas chamber, the grounds, I saw these images of hope. I imagined, as I often do, what it must have felt like to be a prisoner in the holocaust. To imagine the unimaginable... On this visit, I saw visions of hope where there was none.