On Growing Up, a new show with work by Tira Khan and Suzanne Revy will be on display in the gallery at the Bedford Free Public Library, 7 Mudge Way, through March 11, 2020.
Artist Statement ~ Tira Khan
I began photographing my three daughters because I wanted a portrait to hang on my living room wall.
I envisioned them freshly bathed, dressed and happy, all at the same time. For me, that was an impossible trifecta. Instead, I began to photograph moments more authentic — when my girls were wrapped in their own thoughts, oblivious to me.
I saw my photographs as a way of studying the girls in their natural habitat, as a journalist might. Not wanting to bother them, I never asked my daughters to stop what they were doing, and they didn’t seem to mind me snapping away. More likely, I was too timid to ask them to pose. Though had I asked, I’m sure they would have refused.
Over the years, people would encourage me to photograph something more important, something that mattered to the external world. But I found myself drawn to these moments when my daughters were introspective — perhaps I thought taking their photo would lead me closer to their inner world. Children and adolescents have a seriousness about them that we, as a culture, sometimes forget. I paid attention when not much was “going on.”
As the girls aged, I realized that these small moments added up to something much larger – the development of character, personality. Now, as I feel more confident, they are more confident too. We see each other head-on, unapologetic in our flaws. But we are also, at times, more wary. I hope these small moments – witnessed in these photos – show personal growth, enabling them to interact with the world beyond home and family.
As Susan Sontag says: “Photographs are really experiences captured.” I feel like these photos captured early family life and who the girls have become. The childhood “magic” has morphed into teen melodrama and more. It’s now a different kind of energy. We grew up together.
Artist Statement ~ Suzanne Revy
I could not prove the years had feet
Yet confident they run
Am I, from symptoms that are past
And series that are done
I find my feet have further Goals
I smile upon the aims
That felt so ample- yesterday
Today’s have vaster claims
I do not doubt the self I was
Was competent to me
But something awkward in the fit
Proves that— outgrown— I see
When my older son became a Bar Mitzvah, my husband and I were asked to speak to him at the end of the service. These services last about two hours, so we decided that brevity was warranted. As our children mature, such moments can be emotionally fraught for parents and finding the right words was a difficult task. I am a fan of Emily Dickinson’s poems, and when I came across the one which starts “I could not prove the years had feet,” I knew that I had found the words I was looking for. I recited this brief poem to my son on that special day.
As my sons grew into their teenage years, they seemed to have gone into their rooms, and I was not sure when they would be coming out. As a parent, I have witnessed each chapter in their lives and have created a visual diary of photographs showing their creative and imaginative play, their explorations in the woods behind the house, trips to local pools or amusement parks, and – more recently – their changing bodies, interior spaces, and ubiquitous technologies. They are hurtling toward an emotional departure from childhood at an alarming pace, and each chapter of their lives has proven to be fleeting and ephemeral. The selections presented here are part of the third portfolio of images that were begun when my children were toddlers. The photographs are traces of the perils and poignance in the day to day life of a family with two growing boys.