jenny fine

So weird, and beautiful, and weird, and sad. Quite appropriate given that the title of this series, by American artist Jenny Fine, is titled The Saddest Day. It really was, and here’s why:

“In the throws of it, one hardly knows what to do.  It is a hard feeling to name. It’s a lump in the throat, a shortness of breath. It’s hands that tremble knowing that they must work fast. “This is it,” I kept thinking, I kept speaking under my breath, as if saying it out loud made the moment more real. She was leaving, we knew that full well, and there was nothing we could do.

I come from a family of farmers.  When my father was little my grandparents raised pigs.  On the coldest day of the year the hogs were slaughtered and their bodies were dragged to the roof of the house to freeze. One year the hogs took sick and the entire herd had to be slaughtered on the same day. It was my father’s job, together with the other children in the family, to help kill the pigs. This day was known as ‘The Saddest Day’.

This series of medium format photographs, entitled ‘The Saddest Day’, was originally conceived as a reenactment of this family narrative. However, when I arrived home that Mother’s Day weekend, I found my grandmother upside down on the couch, her head where her feet should have been. She was hurting. We rushed her to the hospital.

These photographs document the moments following our return to the farm after our first visit to the emergency room, two weeks before my grandmother died. ‘The Saddest Day’ explores my family’s collective experience of loss leading up to the death of the family matriarch: my grandmother. In this moment taking pictures seemed the only thing we could do to stop time. Putting on a costume, wearing a mask, even looking through the camera was a way to face each other, face this trauma and our vulnerability without having to look at each other straight on. ‘The Saddest Day’ portrays the beginning of our coming to terms with a looming goodbye; my father, sister and cousin dressed as pigs leading my grandmother into death.”

See? So, so sad… but at the same time, it’s also so wonderful and amazing that Jenny had that kind of relationship with her fabulous grandmother, Sarah. A woman who for years and years was a collaborative creative partner {she did this shoot when she knew she was dying – what a spit-fire, right to the end!}, and huge supporter of her granddaughter’s talent and love of art:

RIP, Sarah. I wish I had known you.

comments (10)

  1. Frances /// 12.21.2013 /// 10:57am

    So excited to see jenny here !!!.. We went to the university of Alabama together….. She is closest thing I have ever had to a mentor … Her work is incredible and so is she!

  2. the jealous curator /// 12.21.2013 /// 3:40pm

    lucky you! yes, her work is fantastic and what an amazing, touching story. <3

  3. Kiana /// 12.22.2013 /// 12:05am

    I don’t usually have time to comment ( I’m sorry!) but this incredible storyline and the works themselves have me open mouthed and teary eyed… Just so beautiful… Yes, wierd – but just as beautiful and weird should be. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Christina Brown /// 12.22.2013 /// 7:00am

    Jenny’s sensitivity, insightfulness and talent continue to amaze me.
    I would love to share a photo she did of my mom for her 90th birthday.
    So excited Jenny is receiving the recognition she so deserves!

  5. Anna Keck /// 12.23.2013 /// 5:40am

    Wow! I just love these and the story behind them make them that much more beautiful and meaningful. Thanks for sharing.

  6. marika /// 12.24.2013 /// 7:44am

    Fabulous what a wonderful lady and family relationship. I wish I’d known her too
    Yes thanks for sharing.

  7. lorraine Robbins /// 12.26.2013 /// 5:35am

    Sublime, in every way. Thought they were great when I saw the use of an older model as the main character, then was moved to tears as I read the text. What love.

  8. the jealous curator /// 12.26.2013 /// 10:26am

    right there with you! : )

  9. jennifer /// 01.03.2014 /// 7:44pm

    just Wow!

  10. Suzanne /// 09.24.2014 /// 8:06am

    Thanks for this. A grandma for us all.

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