Joy Christiansen Erb

Portrait of a Mother

“Portrait of a Mother” explores the subject of motherhood and family, both from a personal and universal perspective. Through this series, I record the private moments within the lives of my family and our domestic space. The resulting images artistically document the growth cycles of my children, the successes and failures of motherhood, and focus on the body through sickness and healing.

This series began with the birth of my first child Emmet in 2009 and has continued on to record the life of my daughter Elinor, who was born in 2012. My family narrative is revealed through these photographs. These quiet moments are familiar. They can be sweet, but also curious, seductive and dangerous at the same time.

“Portrait of a Mother” is a collaboration between my children and myself. As an artist, I create a tableau by choosing props, lighting and backdrops. As I begin to photograph, I allow the children to act out and play in their own imaginative worlds and record what happens in front of the camera.

This working methodology has allowed me to blur the lines between the documented and the constructed. Each image serves both to authenticate a reality as well as to construct a private drama. Collectively the images become evidence of our existence and our lives. These photographs represent the wounds, marks and scars that reflect the past and the present.

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