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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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Whitney Bradshaw

SPE Member since 2017
Member Chapter: Midwest

Like Mothers Like Daughters 2016 - Present

Since my daughter Ruby turned 13, she is nearly 17 now, I have been photographing friends of ours who are mothers and daughters of the same age, in their own homes. I also document Ruby with the other teen or teens. Finally, I make a portrait of Ruby in an effort to represent our relationship. The portraits of Ruby are of us relating at a particular moment in time, me as the photographer and her as the subject, but also us as mother and daughter. Each of the resulting portraits is collaborative.

By approaching this project from three distinct vantage points I aim to complicate the series allowing the viewer to see several relationships and watch Ruby, the constant, grow over time. Change itself becomes as much a subject as the mothers and daughters themselves. I have chosen to document our relationships at this particular time because we are experiencing pivotal years of transition as we travel through adolescence and menopause simultaneously.

The work is not only about mother-daughter relationships, aging, and gender but it is also about race, representation, and power. My daughter is bi-racial, African American and Caucasian. Every day I think about race and representation and consciously work to create positive and strong representations of people of all backgrounds. I hope that the diversity of families represented in this project allows all women and girls who come into contact with the work to see themselves in the project.

All of these portraits ask the viewer to reflect on similarities and differences. I hope that through the process of looking, the portraits themselves encourage empathy and understanding in viewers while inserting strong and diverse images of mothers and daughters into the history of art.

(Note that this is just a selection of works. I currently have 52 portraits made for this series)

Ruby, 2016

Miriam and Mimi, 2016

Nayelli, Maya, and Margaret, 2017

Ruby, 2017

Liv and Ruby, 2018

Naia and Brenda, 2017

Esme and Ruby, 2017

Ruby, 2016

Katy, Laurie, and Augusta, 2017

Hannah and Ruby, 2017

Dujuanne and Hannah, 2017

Carol and Oli, 2017

Sidney and Ruby, 2017

Erika and Sidney, 2017

Ruby, 2017

Ruby and Ruby (the Gems), 2017

Ann and Olivia, 2018

Ruby and Liv, 2018

Monica and Ruby, 2017

Ruby, 2018

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