Through collages of digital images and family archives Holding On weaves back together something that has been unraveled. This series was inspired by my aunt Patricia “Patti” Kleinke, a woman who impressively balanced being a bold unstoppable force and a deeply caring individual. She was a mom, a nurse, a traveler and many other things that words cannot fully express. In November of 2021, Patti died of lung cancer following a yearlong battle fought with the fiery determination she was known for. This series features the hats, mittens, scarves, and other items that Patti had skillfully and carefully hand made for our family. While grieving and accepting the unfillable hole that she has left in our lives, I have become deeply attached to the items she knitted. This project was an opportunity to appreciate the time, care and love that Patti put into not just her creations, but her familial relationships. By cutting, weaving and reassembling images I aim to capture the distortion of reality and memory that takes place after loss. Self-portraits and still life images of snowy landscapes are included to highlight the complicated process of reconciling with death as an upsettingly natural part of life.
Holding On is both a photo series and a healing process. By stitching together memory in a new way, we honor what’s been lost through what’s been left behind. When we give sentimental meaning to items we find a way to carry people with us. A sense of fragmentation takes place when someone you love is gone. Their existence is spread out across physical and metaphysical. Their lasting impact is what ties you to them, a connection that spans across time, with you in the present holding a string that reaches back into the past.
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