Bittersweet

  • Bittersweet
    Sophomore Photography Studio Final, Fall 2018
  • My family home is a comforting cacophony of stuff, sounds, and smells. We collect items of sentimental value and items with no value at all, holding onto the thought that “someday we’ll need it”. When you walk into our garage there is a shelf of old pickle jars filled with nails, kid-sized sleds shoved up into the rafters, baseball equipment strewn all over the floor, a large bag of birdseed clearly rummaged through by unwanted critters, and on occasion, a car. In our kitchen there are pictures covering the entire surface of the fridge, and Hungarian porcelain meticulously organized in the cabinet. There is also a cat crying to be fed and the sound of a football game on the television in the other room. Everyone who visits says it smells like maple syrup, but I guess I’m just too used to it to know.

    My life at RISD is different. The dirty, emotionless, industrial environment of institutional housing is a constant reminder that I’m not home. I will never forget the sounds of people having sex down the hall, the clumps of hair on the shower wall shaped into hearts, and the smell of rotting food emanating from my roommate’s desk. My experience last year made me feel uncomfortable, disgusted, and alone. I found myself spending nights on the floor in my friend’s dorm room after my roommate decided I was no longer welcome.

    Now, when I come back for the holidays after living away, I see my family’s home in a new light that is both appreciative and honest. It feels like a huge hug that is at once comforting and claustrophobic. Their nest is now empty but still full of all their kids’ belongings. I think my parents are afraid to let me go, afraid to see me grow up. I think they are scared to grow old, clutching me tightly for as long as they can.

    This series is about the inbetween place I find myself living in now. Black and white film carries a sense of weight that helps to illustrate my bittersweet feelings. As I grow older, so do my family members. I am looking forward and backward at the same time. Each image featuring a collection of objects is meant to stimulate the senses of nostalgia while simultaneously looking with a critical eye. These small moments help to illustrate my transition to adulthood and how my family is attempting to hold onto our past.