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A  Journey of Discovery Through Family Photographs

I have been on a journey of my own life – rebuilding key moments through this project. It has been a journey that has informed me through the discovery of childhood photographs; through memory, absence of memory and myth-making – reconciling memory and reality; and in recognizing that loss and absence have been defining, but not defeating themes along the way. That legacy of loss was captured and hidden away in the tangible sacred vessels of family photographs. I’ve created a narrative with rich, visual language and wonderfully crafted descriptions to listen to and to understand the emotional connections that are made through photographs – emphasizing the importance of the preservation of our own family photos and the stories that connect them.

Take a listen. Read the script. Explore the gallery of photos. And share your thoughts.



"I remember…a box…dog-eared, the size of a shoe box, but twice as wide, with little pink and red flowers and green leaves. Mom kept it under her bed, away from sticky fingers and curious eyes. Once my brother, sister and I discovered it, it was like finding buried treasure. We’d shuffle through the black and white photographs – the double exposures and out - of - focus figures. The photos held memories, but they were memories that without that physical proof…wouldn’t be part of my life at all. Many of those little squares are the only testament to parts of my life that I don’t really remember."


The photographs in that box were the records of our family. They were evidence of who we were, fragments of our story.

A_Box_of_PhotographsV10_050721Paula Nelson
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The photograph in the lock box

That photograph that I made of Grandma a long time ago ­– the one that mom keeps in her lock box. For my family – all of us, it’s a living and breathing memory, every little detail of that picture represents a story - something that we’ve shared together and that we remember even now. She’s standing there just like she always did, leaning back, her shoulders at a crooked tilt. She’s wearing a flowered hat, a flowered dress, a mismatched stained apron, those brown stockings, and navy tennis shoes. Her expression is classic Grandma – a bit of a wry smile, her eyes disappearing into her cheeks. It’s exactly how we all remember her. She loved Red River Valley, by Gene Autry. I can almost hear her singing just as she always did, high-pitched and off key…

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