Losing and Finding Amma, 2009, is a series reflecting on loss, family and memory. On the day before my grandmother’s death, I found a collection of pictures that revealed aspects of her person and her life that were new to me. The photographs were professionally shot and depicted her in her early twenties, several years before she married my grandfather. The pictures contained a great deal of mystery– strangers, boyfriends, and intimate moments. There were also images I recognized from her stories such as the one room school house in Winnipeg where she taught grade school and portraits of her students. I was struck to see her so young with the promise of her whole life ahead of her. Seeing the photographs allowed me to see the narrowness of my perceptions. I realized that I have always known my grandmother in performance of a certain idealized role– which despite her efforts did not protect her family from it’s conflictual nature. In creating this series I struggled with nostalgia, grief and confusion about what was and what is. I sought to preserve these artifacts, place myself in continuity with her narrative, and at the same time question the neatness of the narrative itself.
In doing so, I connected the potential of her life at it’s most open point, to my own life which is in many ways more free than she could have imagined.