Tag Archives: Womb

SW Regional SPE: Carol S. Dass

Sharing photographers that I met at the SW Regional SPE Conference hosted by the Center of Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado….

Carol S. Dass has created a project, Mother, where she looks at the significant female figure in her life with a new perspective–not as the woman who raised her, but as a human being with her own history and dreams. As children (and even as adults) it is difficult to see our parents outside of our familial arena, but then again, it works both ways–as parents, our children will always be our children–people to be watched over and concerned about.

Carol was born in Oakland, California, raised in rural Missouri and she received her BA in Art from Northwest Missouri State University. She has lived in Colorado Springs for 30 years and has been an instructor of photography at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs for the past 12 years. Carol’s work has been shown nationally and is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and numerous private collections.

MOTHER 

Typed out in bold that word seems foreign to me. Partly because I have never been or will ever be a mother. As I move through this life, thinking about aging and one’s place in the world a lot of time has recently been spent with my mother. She has been alone for several years, and I have been seeing her with new eyes while listening to her history. It’s funny how growing up we tend to view our mother’s as just that “Mother”, unable to see beyond that role of the woman who carried me in her womb, raised me the best that she could, and will in many ways continue to view me as a child regardless of my age. 

My mother was forced to work to support us, went back to night school while working and taking care of nearby relatives. She was not at home to greet me with a plate of warm cookies when I came home from school asking after my day. I remember when I was an adult coming into my own finally seeing my mother as a “person”, a unique individual who had many adventures and stories to tell. 

The reasons behind perceived and real dysfunction became easier to understand. These images are a small documentation of “mother”, a reflection of what has occurred and what is ahead. 

Susan Swihart

Los Angeles photographer Susan Swihart has a front row seat as she observes the phenomenon of identical twins.  She has begun a long-term project, About Face, that documents her daughters where she explores the nuances of their similarities and differences. She reveals just enough to give us insight, but also leaves space for their privacy.

Born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, Susan was raised by a large extended family where her solace was time spent with paint brush and pencil. After college, she began a career in advertising and now works as a fine art photographer. Susan will be exhibiting in the Family Exhibition, opening at the Detroit Center for Photography in January, and her work has been exhibited across the country and often seen in F Stop Magazine.

About Face

Sometimes two people start as one. They split apart, but continue to grow in parallel day by day, inch by inch. They develop separately and distinctly. They have different dreams and fears. Yet, to many, they will always look the same. Be interchangeable. Be treated as if they’re still one. 

As the mother of twin daughters, I have been observing the phenomenon of their connectedness since birth. As a photographer and participant observer in their lives, I have set out to explore the psychological components, the similarities and differences, of my daughter’s union. Their realization that they are seen as one causes many different emotions. At times, they too will see themselves as a unit, but they will also wrestle with finding their own voice, identity and place.

They pull, push and compete. Occasionally one pushes ahead and grows faster than the other. One is left behind, until it’s their turn to squeeze by. Most other times they cling to the comfort of one another. The comfort in same face confusion. An ally to hide with from the fame of their twinness. It is a complex, but pure love for the person that was created at the same time. Head to toe in the womb. Side by side in life. And I want to be their witness and chronicle their unique journey into the world of individuals.

Nadia Sablin

Nadia Sablin has a unique world view, with roots in two parts of the world. She was born in the Soviet Union and moved to the United States when she was twelve. Nadia packed her suitcase full of rich visual memories with an ability to tell stories and create portraits that allow us a window into her personal history. Nadia now divides her time between St Petersburg, Russia and New York City, where she is pursuing several photographic projects. I am featuring two of those projects, Two Sisters and Together and Alone.

Two Sisters: In 1952, my grandfather began to lose his vision as a result of being wounded in WWII. Wanting to return to the place where he grew up, he found an unoccupied hill in a village in the Leningrad region of Russia, close to his brothers, sisters and numerous cousins. He took his house apart, log by log, and floated it down the Oyat river to its new location and reconstructed it. This house, with no running water or heat, is the place where my father and his siblings grew up, each moving to the big city after finishing school.

Now, more than half a century later, the house still stands, occupied by two of my aunts in the warmer months. They plant potatoes, bring water from the well, and chop wood for heating the stove. For the last three years, I’ve spent the summer in the village, photographing my aunts’ quiet occupations, and the small world surrounding them. Their life spent in the routine of chores, handiwork and puzzles seems untouched by the passage of time.

Together and Alone:I was conceived, mistakenly, as a twin, although nobody knew this but me. There were two of us, in the womb, identical from our underdeveloped heads to our microscopic toes. She was a Russian girl, just like me, a secretly Jewish Russian girl, prone to emotion, impatient, bookish. She hid. I knew her well before we left. We conspired on hot days in the village, outwitted the demons in the marshes, looked for treasure among the reeds. We parted ways in ’92, when I was brought to greener pastures, great-grandmother’s pillows and iron skillet in tow. She is still breathing magic. She, the other one, is beautiful. Her braid is down to her feet like my aunties’.

Our life packed in six check-in suitcases, three carry-ons. I was alone here in your new world, so I tried to replicate her, mold her out of my mother, out of American girls, out of mirrors. I search for her in images by Dutch painters, in stories by Marquez and Bulgakov. She lives off drywall, in an attic, in a well; she ascended to heaven, she is a mother by now, she walks the outskirts of St. Petersburg as a whore, she is still a child, while I’ve grown bigger, and am good at paying my bills on time.

She brushes her hair one hundred times before bed. A wolf guards her virtue. I see her in the eyes of strangers. Her gestures overtake theirs for a split second, and she is gone before they know what has happened. With my trap, I wait for her to appear there, and if I’m quick enough, if I press the button at the right moment, none of this will be real. We will be together again, she and I, conspirators, sisters, laughers of derisive laughter, whole.