Julianne Nash: Unseeing

As my grandparents sit in their respective chairs, a soft golden light fills the living room through large bay windows. I know this light. It’s the same warm light that has fallen upon me for years as I spend time alongside them. Recently, my grandmother has slowly begun to lose her vision.  The more she struggles to see, the more often I find her staring off towards the light, eyes tightly closed, seemingly lost within her own world. Such moments have brought me to ponder the fragility of her life and waning vision.  This new and painful reality has led me to record the moments I hold dear; to preserve their lives, in a way that only a photograph can.  

     I have begun to create images that document the changes I see throughout their home.  It has become a space that is now reshaping itself in order to contend with my grandmother’s sightless condition.  I’m also making photographs that speak to the abundant love between us: images of us simply being together.  As my grandmother’s eyesight begins to degrade more rapidly, I have become increasingly invested in her troubles. She describes having dryness in her eyes, and dark disorienting spots floating in the center of her field of vision. As her grand daughter, as well as a visual artist, the thought of this is traumatizing.

 Many of the photographs exist purely as a documentation of her changes; I’m chronicling my grandparents and their home, from the perspective of that of a caregiver.  In others I’m attempting to create images that depict what my grandmother might be going through and what her surroundings now looks like. I have begun to physically degrade my negatives in order to understand and experience her nebulous world. This is  both an immensely personal project where I pay homage to my grandmother’s condition, and one in which I also hope to remind the viewer just how fragile we all are, and to appreciate the physical world while we can.

Julianne Nash is a New York City based photographer. She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design with Departmental Honors in 2013. Julianne’s work has recently been exhibited in The Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Festival, and at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, MA. Her work has also been exhibited at the Robert Klein Gallery in conjunction with the Boston Art-Walk. Julianne is currently the assistant to Angela Strassheim and W.M. Hunt.