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Two Little Houses
My most recent photography project is for my great-grandmother, Merle Casper. Grandma has lived on the same street her entire life. She was born in 1913 on Vine Street. She moved once as a child, but just down the street. When she got married during the Great Depression, her father split his land to build her and her husband a house next door and she’s never moved since.
Grandma was the one I called when I was angry at my mother before the age of five. She always had mac&cheese with the shapes, a playhouse in the back, and a fuzzy old television with Casper to Ghost movies. Macular Degeneration has made it so she can’t drive or lately, even read. Her husband died two years after I was born but she’s lived alone in the house on Vine Street since.
My grandma believes in preserving our history. In 2004, a large corporation came in determined to knock down the smokestacks in Murray. Grandma fought—hard. She told interviewers “We’re losing our history if we don’t preserve some of these old things like they were. Otherwise we can’t go back and say this is the way things looked”
It’s my time to preserve her history. Grandma is returning to her home for the last time the first week of April this year. I plan to follow her home and photograph her in the home she’s lived her life in. I hope to capture the memories not only that I have of her, but also those of my whole family does by conducting interviews with members of the family, portions of which will accompany the pieces in my project.
The project will finally take the form of a book centering around the two houses: the one she was born in and the one where she spent the last years of her life.
I really enjoy portraiture. It is a lot of responsibility to capture people’s personalities in a photo. But I enjoy it more than any other form of photography because when I take someone’s portrait, the way it I believe should be done at least, I get to know them and what makes them who they are. You have to really know a person to capture not just the way they look, but who they are in a photo.