The Unseen – County Home Portraits, Part V

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Virginia hadn’t played the piano since she was a child. By the time she became a resident at the Belknap County Nursing Home, she had forgotten much about her own life. Then one day she sat down at this piano and began to play. She plays it almost daily now.

elderly woman playing pianoElderly woman at piano
feet at piano
True friends are people whom you can rely on to give you honest opinions. I am fortunate to have a number of friends like this. As an artist, it is important to be able to examine my work objectively, and to question everything. When I showed this photo to my friends, I got strong reactions from each, mostly negative. “It’s dark,” they said, “It makes me feel sad.” I almost tossed it.

I kept this photo anyway. The shadows and light appeal to me, and I also know this: It is only during this gentle nap that the shaking stops for this man. This is an image of an enormously peaceful moment, if you know a little about it.

Man Sleeping
George
Black and white portrait of elderly man
Millie was getting ready for a date with her new boyfriend. “Don’t tell him how old I am.”
Elderly woman with hair curlers and a Valentine's Day card
Gloria
Gloria
Rachel is 104.
Rachel is 104.
January was a difficult month. In addition to the regular snowy winter, which might limit visitors, residents at the nursing home faced a wave of illness. I was scheduled to photograph there several times, twice even making the 40-minute drive only to have the home closed to visitors after I arrived. The staff does as much as they can to protect residents, but some things are inevitable. Between my last two visits, I learned that two of the residents I had photographed had passed away.

Rest in peace, Betty.
Betty, through lace and looking out window
Rest in peace, Alice.
Alice in her red beret

To read how this project got started, click here: http://maundymitchell.com/the-unseen-county-home-portraits/
To see parts II, III, and IV, click below:
http://maundymitchell.com/the-unseen-county-home-portraits-part-ii/
http://maundymitchell.com/the-unseen-country-home-portraits-part-iii/
http://maundymitchell.com/the-unseen-county-home-portraits-part-iv/
For Part VI, click here: http://maundymitchell.com/the-unseen-county-home-portraits-part-vi/