Anna Ream: Comfort Objects
Photographer Anna Ream has been documenting family and children for a number of years and has a project about the objects that children use to comfort themselves in their early years. The challenges of growing up are soothed by objects that help transition the child into their young adulthood when the ties to family are not so fierce.
Anna grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from Wellesley College, she served as a missionary in Japan, an investment banker in New York City, and a financial advisor in Washington, DC. Anna moved to Washington state in 2005 and a family portrait session rekindled her interest in photography. In 2008 she began studying at Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) in Seattle. She earned a Certificate in Fine Art Photography from PCNW in June 2014. Her work has been exhibited in Seattle and Portland and is currently included in the Pacific NW Viewing Drawers at Blue Sky Gallery. Anna lives in Issaquah, WA with her husband and three children.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”-Maya Angelou
A comfort object is a toy or blanket that takes on emotional importance to a child. A physical link to a child’s emotional and psychological world, often bearing the stains and scars of tears and play. While I did not have a comfort object as a child, my three children have each had one. Like many parents, I’ve hunted for it at bedtime, sent it along when leaving a child in another person’s care, and carefully packed it on trips. It is a conduit for meeting their emotional and psychological needs.
In developmental psychology comfort objects are called “transitional objects” and act as a substitute for the mother-child bond, helping the child navigate separation by providing a stand-in. I am fascinated by this link to parenting, and to motherhood in particular. The mother is where so many physical, emotional and psychological needs are met and focused.
The children in my series include my own and those of friends and strangers. The objects are a thread of continuity running through the images, and a means for the children to reveal elements of their emotional lives. Most profoundly for me though, they are a vehicle for pondering childhood and reflecting on my feelings about parenting.
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