T H Y M O T H E R. T H Y S I S T E R.
In my country of origin, it is customary for a mother to prepare her preadolescent daughter for motherhood by appointing her guardianship of her younger siblings. Although I had an elder brother, at six-years-old, I was expected to assume responsibility of my baby sister. This task intensified when we moved to the United States and both our parents worked. We were extremely poor and though they relied on my help to make a living, I was extremely resentful. In my twenties I gave birth to a baby girl and six years later a son. My marriage imploded unexpectedly and I became a single mother. In order to support my children and finish college, I remorsefully inflicted the caretaker responsibility unto my daughter. Eventually I remarried and we had two more sons; my financial circumstances changed for the better; and my daughter’s obligation diminished. At her request however, she earned an allowance by babysitting her three younger brothers
Free of guilt, and observing from an adult’s perspective, I began to photograph my daughter in the sister-as-mother role. Often I witness as she undertakes this self-induce obligation by subconsciously mimicking my discipline styles and maternal instincts in an uncanny fashion. She personifies my maternal behavior so accurately it’s as if she were me, and we merge together into one woman. To depict this abstract concept, I manipulate digital retouching techniques to integrate random anatomy parts from my body and place them unto my daughter’s body (or vice versa), while photographing us in real-time situations or reenactments from past events. Although I denounce the specific tradition that inspired this work, motherhood and heritage are sacred to me. I wanted to convey that notion by choosing biblical references to title some of the images, and at times duplicate lighting effects found in classical paintings depicting ‘The Holly Mother.’