Six of the forty images from Grief Landscapes are shown above. To read the stories that go with them, click on the photos.
Grief Landscapes, 2016-
“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” - C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
In 2014, my close friend’s young son died suddenly. As I supported her during the early stages of her grief, I found myself wanting to explore all of the different ways people respond to and learn to live with loss in a culture that generally tries to avoid it. Grief is often described as a journey, but it’s an intensely individual and often isolating one: rarely do people speak openly about the range of ways of grieving, and there are many misconceptions about the grief process.
For for the first stage of Grief Landscapes, I set out to document the unique terrain of people’s grief through photography and a collaborative process with the public. First, I invited people to participate by answering a series of questions about how they grieved after someone's death. Then I photographed an object in extreme close-up that evokes the memory of the person who died, transforming it into an abstract landscape inspired by the participant’s grief story.
From January through October 2016, I created images in response to forty stories I received through a public submission process, and posted them online (I've since taken most of them down as I prepare to turn the body of work into a book). The project is still evolving–in addition to the creation of the book, I'll be turning the raw material into a traveling interactive installation.
Through Grief Landscapes I wanted to examine a number of questions about grief and bereavement: What does it look like? How do people navigate it differently? How does grief change us? How can we support those who are grieving? Grief Landscapes documents grief not as a prescribed set of steps or timelines but as a place with no clearly marked paths, just an exploration of new territory.
Grief Landscapes is supported by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council.
Prints from and inspired by this project are available in my shop.