Durham, New Hampshire-based artist and educator Cheryle St. Onge has been photographing her mother, who lives with vascular dementia, for the past five years. These images and the process of making them has offered a sort of counterbalance to the pain of watching her mother suffer. Using whichever camera is in reach, from her phone camera to her 8″x10″ view camera, Onge connects with her mother through the collaborative process. “She must recall our history and the process of picture making,” she explains. “Because she brightens up and is always up for what my children would refer to as the long effort with the long camera.”
The photographs have also inadvertently become a point of connection between Onge and the outside world—sharing photographs and stories with loved ones becomes a reciprocal exchange: “sharing the act of being in the moment, sharing the ephemeral nature of my looking and her seeing. . . My mother does her best and I do mine. And then in turn, I give the picture away to anyone who will look. It is an excruciating form of emotional currency.”
See more from “Calling The Birds Home” below.