Almost exactly two years ago, on September 24, 2014, my friends Lindsay and Adam lost their son Miles. As I’ve written about before, I felt so helpless when he died, and I wanted to do everything I could to support them, and to understand what they were going through. Being with and listening to Lindsay in the immediate aftermath of Miles’ death set me on a course to explore all of the different ways people grieve and learn to live with loss in the way I know best: by talking to people and making art about it.
It’s been kind of a crazily intense and extremely meaningful journey for me making this work, and now Grief Landscapes is coming to an end in less than two weeks. I’ve been posting people’s stories and the photographs I’ve made in response since January 1st, and I have two more stories to post, for a total of 40. (My original plan was to make 52 photographs, one for each week of the year, but as often happens, the project evolved. 40 feels like the right stopping point for now, although I'll likely add some more stories in the future.)
I received many more stories than I could make images for, and I am so grateful to everyone who shared their grief with me. It reminded me that even though the project grew out of tragedy, there were so many positive ripple effects from making this work and putting it out into the world. Countless people told me that reading the stories helped them feel less alone, or gave them hope, or taught them what to say or not say to someone who is grieving. And the collaborations I had with the participants were almost magical, which might sound strange, but I think the experience of having a total stranger hear their pain and reflect it back to them through art was validating for many people. And I felt truly honored to be trusted in this way.
So what’s next? In terms of the project, my dream is to publish Grief Landscapes as a book—a lot of people have mentioned that they would like to see it in book form, and I would love for the project to find a wider audience. And in the near future, I’ll also start offering similar images on commission. The process has been healing for so many people, so I look forward to creating new macro landscapes in memory of someone (or in honour of someone, for an anniversary or a birthday). I’m also gestating some new ideas on different topics, which are too new to start discussing publicly, but I’m excited about them. Stay tuned.