Ellen O’Connell: Goodbye Uma
Ellen O’Connell has created a layered and poignant series about growing up, sparked by her daughter’s desire to turn away from childhood distractions. But in a sense, the work is really about motherhood and the bittersweet acknowledgement that chapters close and childhood is fleeting. Ellen’s use of darkroom artistry adds a sense of history that speaks to time and memory.
Ellen was born in Pennsylvania but moved to northern California at a very young age. While she considers San Francisco her true home, she has moved between the US and Europe several times. Most recently, after spending eight years in Zürich, she and her family now live in a small town thirty minutes north of New York City. Ellen’s photographs have garnered awards and exhibitions in galleries and photo festivals around the globe.
I continue to work with film and traditional tools in a wet darkroom. The time required of traditional photography allows me to slow down and appreciate the unfolding of the medium. Though I cannot predict the future, at the moment I don’t feel complete at the end of a printing day if I haven’t cursed the fact that I still need to clean chemical trays before I close the door to my darkroom for the night. When traditional photographic tools are no longer available, I may learn to paint.
When my daughter boldly declared that she was done playing with dolls, my heart skipped a beat. She was ready to say goodbye to Uma, her first and most beloved baby doll. Together we embarked upon a small photographic journey to bid farewell to Uma. Only after some time did I realize that all of my artistic work with my children up to that point had been about saying goodbye. Goodbye to Uma, goodbye to innocence, goodbye to the person we are, as we search for the one we will become.
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