Many people have asked me why I photographed this series. Usually people do not understand my interest in the subject matter or they question my mental health. My hope was that the series spoke for itself, but after hearing people's comments I figured that it would be best to explain why I shot this series, what it means to me and how I hope it will affect my viewers. I do not want to be misinterpreted or have someone question working with me because they think I am strange/unusual.
When I first started at RIT I was asked to create a series that discussed my fears. We were asked to create a series of 6 images that convey our biggest fears. I created a series that consisted of 3 self portraits and 3 images of road kill. Below is the series that I made.
The self-portraits represent my fear of returning to the person that I once was. When I was younger I was a bully. I verbally and physically abused the people that I cared the most about. For some reason I thought that by acting mean to the people I had a crush on, would make it seem as though I didn't like them. I used it as a way of protecting myself and as a way to get out the anger that I had. I had a difficult childhood, I was verbally and physically abused by my father and my mother did not believe me when I told her what was happening. This abuse continued until I was thirteen years old, when my parents moved into the same home and we were all transported to Norway. From then it was just threats, but I was still terrified that the abuse would start up again.
I suppose because I was so used to being abused at home, I thought it was how everyone should be treated, especially to the people you love. I honestly didn't realize the affect that I was having on people until I was in 7th or 8th grade and this boy asked me why I was so mean. I never realized how cruel I was or how I was being interpreted. It was then that I realized I was turning into my father so I vowed to change. From then on I stopped abusing people and I became more empathetic and friendly. But every now and then I am reminded of who I used to be and I fear returning to that girl.
These portraits represent this by showing the progression of my loss of identity, it begins with a veil and continues to my 'kind spirit' leaving my body.
The other three photographs, the images of road kill, show my fear of death, I fear above all because I do not know what will happen when I die. I don't know if there is an afterlife or a rebirth or if death is the end. My hope is that we can continue to live whether it is as a ghost on this Earth or as an alternate version of ourselves reborn.
With this in mine, there is an overall meaning behind this series. The set of 6 images also represents my fear that when I die I will not be remembered. It is always a photographers wish to make an impression and to be remembered in history, but even if I do not become famous I would like to be remembered for my work, my efforts in the community and as a good friend. I do not want my life to end the second that I die. I hope to continue my life through others memories. Hopefully I will become famous and go down in history, but I cannot expect this. I just hope to make an impression in one person's life.
Now I am sure that you are wondering how this relates to my series mortality. After I completed this series we were given the opportunity to continue a project that we started or create a new assignment for ourselves. I decided to continue my work photographing roadkill so that their memories will not fade away. Every time I go out to photograph road kill, I speak to the animals and tell them how sorry I am for our mistakes (killing them). I tell them that I hope their families are okay and I hope that they will continue their lives wherever they end up. For me this is a documentary of human mistakes and lives that should not be forgotten. Every image that I take is to remind us of what we have done. These images are horrific to me and to anyone who adores animals as much as I do, but they are necessary to take because their lives should not end in vain. I hope that through seeing these images you will think twice when you drive past a dead animal, perhaps you will say a pray for them or tell them how sorry you are or maybe you will begin photographing them as well, whatever the case I hope it makes you think about the lives that have been lost. I feel that an animal's life is equally as important as a human's so please drive safely and be careful, there are too many animals killed in America every day.