Emily Wiethorn: The Fragility of Home
In the series, The Fragility of Home, a Kentucky-based photographer Emily Wiethorn investigates an intimate, yet unfamiliar, relationship with her mother and how in process it has profoundly shifted her notion of a maternal figure and ideals of home. Their home is a safe haven, as it dearly holds fragile memories within their daily interactions. The space resonates a sense of discomfort and tension while they set foot on an unexpected journey at different stages of their lives. Emily’s photographs narrate a conversation, where they collaboratively allow deep intimacy and expose vulnerability, in hope to restore their shared wounds. Through attempted dialogues, she finds herself less distant and is able to mend a once fragile, now honest, relationship with her mother who she once thought was an idealized, perfect figure.
Emily Wiethorn (b.1991) is a third year MFA candidate in Studio Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is an Instructor of Record and holds a Graduate Teaching Assistantship. She received her BFA in Photography from Northern Kentucky University. She is the recipient of the Edgren Tuition Fellowship and the Peterson Fellowship. She was awarded the 2017 SPE Student Award for Innovations in Imaging, and was Critical Mass finalist for 2017. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. She works primarily in self-portraiture where she explores notions of feminine identity, gender, and self-discovery.
The Fragility of Home
The relationship between mother and daughter isn’t an easy one to grasp. I’m an only child of divorced parents where I spent the majority of my formative years living with my mother. When you’re an only child without many friends, your mother becomes a guiding force in your life. But what happens when your mother suddenly becomes human, and not the perfect idea you once thought she was?
My mother encapsulates a profound sense of home in my life. As I have grown older, our relationship has morphed and changed in unexpected ways, but the sense of home has remained the same. What I have come to realize is that the relationships we hold dear to us are very delicate. They can be broken with merely a few words, and slowly these people can become strangers to us if we’re not careful.
In this series, I am exploring the wounds present between mother and daughter, both the ones that heal and the ones that remain. My images employ the direct gaze of my mother to address the tension that is still present between us. This series has brought me closer to my mother in ways I hadn’t expected as an adult woman, ways I’m not sure I was prepared for. There is intimacy in this series between her and I that is both trusting and unnerving. She is weary of the camera, sometimes looking at me with trusting eyes, and simultaneously nervous of what the camera may show to me that she cannot tell me herself. This series chronicles the journey mothers and daughters take together, and the fragile sense of intimacy that comes and goes as we both enter different stages of our lives.
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