Between spending time with Ed, traveling to speaking engagements and exhibitions, and beginning an exciting new photography book, I haven’t focused on my blog. I appreciate those of you who’ve continued to stay in touch with me and I do plan to get back to my blog when the time is right, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy browsing my website and my most recent photography project, Sea of Dreams.
When I began writing my blog, I was warned that I shouldn’t start it unless I was committed to writing on a regular basis. You can see where that went. I’ve taken a seven month sabbatical—time does go by fast when you’re having fun.
Since my last blog entry, I’ve given speeches about Alzheimer’s and caregiving in Montreal; Greenwich, CT.; Baltimore; San Francisco; Dublin; Berlin; Luxembourg and Paris. My photographs from I Still Do have recently been on exhibition in Berlin and Paris and are currently in museum shows in San Diego (MoPA) and Daytona Beach, Florida (SMP.) It’s clear to me that people around the world want to understand the personal stories behind the Alzheimer’s statistics—and art is a way for them to connect very personally and very viscerally with a disease that is often still hidden. Seeing how people bond with Ed through my photographs of him, and by extension connect with others with AD, is something I find very rewarding and touching. For me, photographing Ed has enabled me to give shape to something that’s shapeless and a voice to something that’s been silent. It’s been a way for me to confront Alzheimer’s using the only weapons I have.
Ed, by being my model, my muse, my husband, my best friend—and, always, my cheerleader—has given me a very great gift. He’s also touched thousands of people whom he’ll never know.
Since we’re in the season of Thanksgiving, I will add that Ed and I are doing well even though his Alzheimer’s has progressed. Our conversations are less complex and wide-ranging, but we still understand each other. We go for walks in the facility in which he resides or we sit in the sun holding hands. Last week, Ed had forgotten who I am and that we’re married—what he told me, though, is that I’m his best friend. That, and dinner with my family, make this a very good Thanksgiving.
The people I came across in Greece seemed very comfortable being photographed. Even the animal mascot in Mykonos, Petros the pink pelican, seemed comfortable in front of my camera. I love being asked to speak in venues as beautiful and friendly as Greece. And speaking of beautiful, the mountain village in the photograph below is real—although it’s so perfect it looks like a stage setting.
I just came back from five days in San Francisco, where I went to attend the opening of an exhibition of my work I Still Do and Sea of Dreams.
Here’s a review of the show by Robert Cortlandt:
Next on to Fifty Crows in their new space (which personally I found rather dark) . They’re showing Judith Fox’s new work I Still Do. An exceptionally moving show of photographs about her husband as he struggles with Alzheimer’s. It is a very intimate and personal look. One thing about documentary photography, for me at least, is that struggle for access where I am reaching for the intimate. She seems to have achieved that fine line of revelation that doesn’t feel like intrusion. The feeling in her book is exactly what I want to achieve in my doc. projects.
I’m attaching a few photographs from the trip and from the show. I also want to share with you a photograph I took at the lovely Yerba Buena Park on the one day it didn’t rain.
I was going to write about another suggestion for coping with AD, and then decided against it. Alzheimer’s is a significant part of my world and my life, but it’s not the only part. I’ve been thinking a lot about my photography and writing (which, admittedly, have helped me cope with Ed’s Alzheimer’s) and the part art plays in our lives, if we’re open to it. I’ve been thinking about the ways in which art can change our world and our way of seeing our surroundings. I’ve been thinking about specific painters and photographers and musicians and the riches they’ve given me—even when their work has disturbed and challenged me. And I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to have the ability and desire to express myself through photography and writing. I’ve been thinking, too, how I hope that each of us has the good fortune to use whatever creative talents we have to nurture ourselves and the people we love—whether we cook, or garden or dance or weave. And, in indulging our more creative ambitions, we will find new ways to cope with AD—or whatever challenges we’re faced with.
I just returned from trips to San Francisco and New Orleans, where I spoke to 2000 health care professionals. The people to whom I spoke were engaged and energetic and really interested in talking about what it’s like to live with AD. I was particularly touched by grown grandchildren who had experienced the gradual loss of a grandparent to the disease, and who often watched their parents take on the role of caregiver. I know how special a grandparent-grandchild relationship can be and I think the pain AD brings to a grandchild is often overlooked. I think the grandchildren to whom I spoke were glad to be able to talk about their grandparents and Alzheimer’s. My grandson chose to write about Alzheimer’s for a class project—I know he and my granddaughter understand things about the fragility of life that other children their age might not.
On another note: when speaking before groups, I often don’t see more of a city than an airport, hotel room and venue (Convention Center in New Orleans.) When in San Francisco, though, I did have the opportunity to spend a few lovely hours in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art—which was, not coincidentally, right near my hotel. I often head first to the photography exhibitions—and this time was no exception. But I was also struck by the design of the museum. I’m attaching some of my photographs from sfmoma; if you’re in San Francisco, try to find time to make a visit. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Seems it never rains in sunny California … but girl, don’t they warn ya? It pours, man, it pours.
It’s been pouring for the better part of three days now, and we’re cranky. Until this week, the only use my umbrella got was when I headed east. I know I’m spoiled, you don’t have to tell me. But I’ll confess: as inconvenient as the rain is for me, and as seriously difficult it is for others in SoCal, there’s something about it that I like now and then. And, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a book to read and a fireplace to light.
Alzheimer’s can be such a heavy subject to write about, and to read about. I’d like to lighten things up once and a while with one of my photographs. It works for me, but what I want to know is if it works for you. Please let me know how you feel about this direction.
While in New York for the opening of my photography show at the Andrea Meislin Gallery, I bundled myself up—added a few extra layers—and set off for a Chelsea gallery to see new images by one of my favorite photographers, William Eggleston. Not everyone loves his work, but I’m a big fan.
Eggleston photographs ordinary objects that are usually invisible to the rest of us, and makes them extraordinary and beautiful. What a gift. He was also the first photographer to really bring color to the world of fine art photography—for which I’m grateful. I found his new work as wonderful and fresh as ever.
I don’t think it’s stretching, too much, to see a link between his view of the world and to living with Alzheimer’s. I believe our perspective changes when we love someone who has the disease—and we learn to appreciate the small, formerly ordinary events, as special moments worth treasuring and noticing. I hope you’ll check out Eggleston’s work and let me know what you think: http://www.egglestontrust.com.