Representations of illness and disability in media often rely heavily on the idea of “overcoming” physical and mental limitations as a way to assure the viewer that health issues are challenges to be conquered rather than present the reality that to be sick and/or disabled is to be human. Outside of the inspiration trope, illness, whether mental or physical, is often tucked away as a taboo subject and seen as something to be pitied, blamed, or ignored.
I began documenting my immediate family’s life with chronic illness while I was undergoing the process of being diagnosed with autoimmune disease. While the project began in 2017 with the goal of being developed into a portfolio exploring the mental, physical, and financial impacts of chronic health issues on a middle class family, over the years the project has become much more about the lives that my family and I live alongside our illnesses.
A Family of Complicated Bodies contextualizes illness and disability within the setting of our daily lives and explores how health permeates the home landscape and our relationship with each other. Over the past 5 years the ways that we collectively and individually manage our health has grown and changed, influenced by the outside world and our changing needs, yet the images do not move outside the four walls of the home that we continuously make together as a family with complicated bodies.