Posts Tagged ‘hudson ny photographer’

My Left Hip

Posted in on November 3rd, 2010 by karendavis – Be the first to comment

Art as Life; Life as Art

#7 from My Left Hip: Art as Life; Life as Art by Karen Davis

It was a shock that the pain was arthritis and that only surgery would help.

Photographing the event, before and after anesthesia brought a feeling of control where there really was none. I photographed the hands of all the players in my hospital stay – from surgeon to blood tech; from occupational therapist to housekeeping.

When I was recovering, I began to sort through the photographs of hands I regularly make – samplings from paintings, sculpture and other media –  when visiting museums.  I found pairings – thus the diptychs and a French-Door artist book were born.

My bum hip reminded me of childhood when my sister’s physical handicaps made me jealous for attention.  The story follows the diptychs.

 

#1 from My Left Hip: Art as Life; Life as Art by Karen Davis

 

 

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old snapshot my sister and me after oxfords

Fallen Arches

When I was eight, I was highly motivated to help the healing profession find something wrong with me.  Years of tagging along to outpatient clinics with my mother and younger sister, Cheryl, disabled from birth, had most likely unleashed this desire.  I finally succeeded when the orthopedic resident at Children’s Hospital in Boston brought my mother into the examining room and, in a quiet voice, said, “Well, the x-rays don’t reveal very much, Mrs. Davis, but it does look as if Karen may have fallen arches.”

Heaven!!

Fantastic!!

He wrote a prescription for arch supports and advised that I wear sturdy oxfords.

Finally!!

Two weeks later, I had arch supports and a new pair of brown Stride Rites.

My exhuberance faded within months as I realized there would be no patent leather Mary Janes for me.  As soon as I grew enough to require a new pair of shoes, I declared myself cured and never looked back…. for more than a half a century!

A Post-Midlife Procedure

Half a century later, the periodic shooting pain in my groin was beginning to intrude on my life.  I assumed the problem was tendons and tried stretching more.  Sometimes the knife-like pain appeared while jogging on the treadmill – sometimes not.   I switched to the recombinant cycle – I took fewer walks – I stretched. Maybe I was pronating. Maybe I needed arch supports.

My internist recommended an orthopedist. I had X-rays and met with the doctor.

“You have arthritis in your left hip.”

“What’s the cure?”

“Hip replacement surgery.”

(Insert expletives here).

I got a second opinion.

“You have arthritis.  The only cure is surgery.  You’re certainly a candidate; but some people prefer to wait – others, not.”

He suggested ibuprofin.

Okay!

“You might try a cane,” he continued.

Oh no!

Does it hurt going up stairs?

No.

Does it hurt lying down?

No.

Within two weeks it hurt on the stairs;  within three, lying down.

I called his office, “How fast can we get this done?”

We set a date five weeks ahead.

I have confidence in the medical profession, but surgery means a loss of control.  You’re in someone else’s hands.  Not just the doctor, but everyone connected to your treatment.

For this reason, I assigned myself a task – something that could  provide me with a sense (false) of control.  I would document my experience with photographs.  If I was to be in the hands of strangers – their hands would be in mine.

On our back deck that warm August evening before surgery, Mark and I shared some wine and I began my project.  The first “subject” was a stainless steel model of an artificial hip – an artifact/paper weight from Mark’s days in MIT’s bio-mechanical lab.

At 6 a.m. the next morning we reported for surgery – my first post-midlife “procedure.”

Everything went well.   The staff – to a person – was kind and helpful.  They were also agreeable photographic subjects.

While I was in the hospital, Mark built a recovery room for me.  I needed to be on the same floor with the bathroom and kitchen for a week or two. He cleared space in my studio and bought a mattress and box-spring. Then he built a twin-size bed – complete with headboard and reading light; purchased and set up a dvd player with surround sound, and positioned my ibook on  a TV table within easy reach.

My recovery went smoothly.

  • Four days in the hospital.
  • Two weeks in my studio (then sold the bed on Craig’s list.)
  • One week with a shower stool.
  • Three weeks with an adaptive toilet seat.
  • Two weeks on crutches.
  • Three weeks with a cane.
  • Eight weeks of special exercises.

I no longer had to weigh the idea of walking to the Square.  No more cane or anxiety about the next sharp pain.  No more distress on stairs. I resumed sound nights of sleep and work outs at the gym, – although getting there enough continues  to be a challenge.

Nowadays, I’m only reminded of my foreign body part at the airport.  My left hip sets off the anti-terrorism alarm.  I’m scanned with a beeping metal detector and patted down as I stand spread eagle, stare off, and pretend no one notices the frisking.

A small price to pay.

The Ball-Shaped Pain from “The McCann Family” Series at Center for Photography in Woodstock

Posted in dolls, family, photography, portrait on August 20th, 2010 by karendavis – Comments Off on The Ball-Shaped Pain from “The McCann Family” Series at Center for Photography in Woodstock

photograph by karen davis, "The Ball-Shaped Pain" from the McCann Family portfolioLast fall I received the CPW 2009 Artists’ Fellowship Award. In addition to a cash prize to help me pursue my work, two of my photographs became part of the of the Center’s print collection housed at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz. I used part of my award to upgrade my camera and part to enroll in two workshops at CPW one with Keith Carter, the other with Dawoud Bey.  Last weekend was the hands-on, inspirational class in Portrait with Bey.  I was happy to see that, in addition to two larger exhibitions, my photograph, The Ball-Shaped Pain from “The McCann Family” series was included in a smaller show of recent acquisitions by the Center.  There is a larger exhibit curated from the Permanent Print Collection at the Dorsky.

CloseToHome

Posted in on May 29th, 2008 by karendavis – Comments Off on CloseToHome

family panorama by karen davis

Close to Home, is an on-going series of photographs of three middle class families related to me and to one another by birth or marriage. Working in collaboration with the families – a multi-dimensional stew of cultures – I photograph the quotidian of their lives. Over the years as adults age, babies are born, children grow, illness strikes, divorce looms, relocations occur – I am there, a seen but unobtrusive presence. Most often I work with one family at a time but when members of 2 or 3 families are together, I photograph their connections.

My interest in the family as a photographic subject began with portraits by Tina Barney of her upper class family. Ultimately, it was two British artists photographing their working class neighbors and families that influenced my approach: Nick Waplington The Living Room (1991) and Richard Billingham Ray’s a Laugh” (1996).

The Story of Slavery hits home, from Close to Home series by Karen Davis
As a portfolio or exhibition, the prints can only hint at the multiple threads of narrative. As an extended series, each family’s story is more fully portrayed. By adding their voices as text or audio, my goal for Close to Home will be most fully realized. For this reason, beyond the photographs, themselves, I have begun the process of expanding this project into multi-media and book/assemblage formats.

Three Points, Harlem by Karen Davis

Sisters, West RoxburyNan and Jonathan, ClaverackDust Off, Hong KongWord Games and Treatment, Nantasket BeachAfter a Workout from series Close to Home by Karen Davis

Andrea and Nyla with One Braid to Go from Close to Home series © Karen Davis

Nyla on a rainy day in Hudson from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

Parker and Drawing of Nyla by Maggie from Close to Home © Karen Davis

What's up, Junior?Papa John and Nyla - back to the pond from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

Noah and Nyla hanging on Papi, from Close to Home © Karen Davis

Jon and baby Jesse in Hong Kong from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

Nan and Jesse, Jon and the Celtics from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

Mark Skypes with Jon from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

Parker and Andrea in Hull from Close to Home Series © Karen Davis

Ed, Meredith and Maggie - Summer's Night from Close to Home series © Karen Davis

Maggie With Pink Jacket from Close to Home Series © Karen Davis

Jesse and Nyla at Jon's 40th from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

Asia and Nyla from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

Papi holding Jesse wanting Mama from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

from series Close to Home © Karen Davis

John and Captain John from series Close to Home © Karen Davis