Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The empty nest project

By now, thousands of people within the sound of my blog are probably suffering a bad case of empty nest syndrome. The last of the brood has gone off to college. Maybe someday they'll come back home to live, but it'll never be quite the same. I think about this as I watch the geese -- they were just little critters a few months ago -- get ready to leave the Twin Cities.

Dona Schwartz knows the feeling. She's working on a photographic portrait project about empty nesters. "I am interested in this moment in time because I think it's a significant transitional period in people's lives," she says. "I photograph parents in the vacated bedrooms their kids have left behind. Sometimes the bedrooms have been left as is, and sometimes parents repossess the space--both scenarios say a lot about the nature of the transition to life without children at home and the different ways parents approach it."

Schwartz has raised six children and stepchildren; the last is almost ready to fly. Leading up to this point, she thought she'd enjoy the coming solitude. Now, she's not so sure.

"One day I was overwhelmed by the teenage energy and drama (and angst) and I thought, 'I'm tired of the transitions in teenagers' lives! Adults go through transitions too and someone should pay attention to adults' lives!' she says. 'An empty nest! That's a transition I can relate to!' It was a eureka moment and the project came into being. The project is called On the Nest and it has two parts. I have been photographing people who are expecting their first child in the space they have prepared for the child's arrival, so part one is the transition to parenthood. Part two is empty nesters photographed in the vacated bedrooms of their children -- parents who are now transitioning to life without day-to-day responsibility for the care of children -- adults who are again on the threshold of a new identity and way of living."

If you'd like to be part of the project, contact her at dona@umn.edu.

No comments: