Artist Statement – Nurturing

Visually rendered here are glimpses of my family. Life changed dramatically for me in 1985 when I became a father. Witnessing the daily transformations and awakenings my son would experience was certainly awe-inspiring. The pride and joy I felt as a recent addition to the role of parenthood was unsurpassed in my life. This elation was tempered with the reality of the unknown. How to be a “good” parent was something we are not taught. It meant so much to me to do the right thing. Yet, this concept was and is lost in a sea of gray matter. As all parents, I was left to sort through the possibilities trying to discover the right choices step by step.

At the moment of birth, as his mother’s hands snatched our son from my hands, merely moments after I caught him, I realized the meaning of the bond between mother and child. It was not, and would not, be equal to the role I would play in this early childhood bonding no matter how much we tried to be equal and non sexist in our actions.

I returned to the comfort of the photographic process. While attempting to participate in the lives around me photographing family on a daily basis helped me to share while exploring the concerns I had regarding early childhood parenting. The process helped me to create images I am fond of while enjoying more time with family.

I used a 35mm for the ability to be spontaneous and printed most of the images 16″x20″ because I was so drawn to the visual appearances of the new born’s skin. At times the images were presented in a context juxtaposing them to images from society instructing children how to become successful members of contemporary culture.

John Willis

1985 — 1989 various sizes from 11″x14″ to 16″x20″ Toned Gelatin Silver Prints

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