Betty’s Sweet Tea is an ongoing series chronicling the life of my mother, her surroundings and the people close to her. Through this body of work, I am attempting to address, with pictures in film, the multi-faceted nature of both my mother’s personality and schizophrenia, and how the two are inextricably linked.
Betty’s mind has been in a constant state of tension between reality and fiction for almost two decades. Over the nine-year span of our project together, there have been many physical changes to her body due to aging, the side effects of powerful psychiatric medications, and cancer.
In this series, iced tea serves as one visual anchor in the portrayal of my experience of Betty in the world. This traditional mainstay of southern hospitality accompanies the viewer in following her significant shifts in mood and self-perception. The symbol brings levity and consistency to the sometimes dire and chaotic nature of her existence. In spite of years in a state institution and numerous group homes, Betty has held onto this daily crutch, along with her spirituality, vanity and humor, as a means of stability and decorum in the face of her circumstances.