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Where words are scarce (bated breath)

A photo series exploring life and death intertwined and in-becoming.

When I was eleven years old, I started having panic attacks at the thought of dying. About once a week for several years after my cousin’s suicide in 2007, I would spiral into a crying, shaking, dysfunctional mess. I wasn’t equipped to handle these feelings, and the advice I received at the time wasn’t helpful.

How does one console a panicked child feeling existential dread? I know many adults who desperately want to provide consoling words, but who also struggle with these same thoughts. Slowly, I learned to recognize the thought patterns that fed my anxieties, and I worked hard to let these thoughts go before they became too loud to ignore.

Even before I knew I wanted to be an artist, I was already acutely aware of small deaths all around me, but becoming an artist gave me the tools to confront these thoughts directly. The anxious urgency I felt when thinking about my limited time on earth could be harnessed as motivation, and ephemeral scenes that I didn’t want to part with could be frozen in photographs. Art is healing to most people who spend time with it, but I truly think I need some form of it to function as a person.

Some of these photographs are macabre, but I don’t see this as a series about death. Instead, I think of this as a series that celebrates living alongside it, cherishing the stubborn beauty found in little things all around us. “Where words are scarce (bated breath)” is in some ways a new series cobbled together from the photographic odds and ends that I haven’t previously found a way to use, but in other ways it’s a series I’ve been working on since I was eleven.

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