According to artist Betye Saar, the process of creating is a ritual or “prescribed series or set of acts”.
Rituals tend to define our rites of passage. They become markers for transitions in our lives; the symbols for leaving one state of being and entering another. These photographs of my grandparents are my attempt to investigate the ageing process. How does their transformation reflect onto my own view of self? The act of photographing and the pictures themselves become meditations, or rituals, on what it means to be part of the human experience, from birth into death. What happens when we get old? What will we remember? And forget? What happens to our skin? What happens to our surroundings? Who will be there to help us? By watching the daily rituals of my 95-year-old grandfather and 82-year-old grandmother, I am allowing these questions to sit and breathe inside of me. It is through their life and image that I have the courage to answer these questions for myself.
Amalia Mendez earned her Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and is a 2006 MFA candidate at Rhode Island School of Design, where she has been awarded a Presidential Scholarship. Mendez has worked as a staff photographer for Newsday, El Diario/La Prensa, and interned at the Village Voice. Her work was featured in Photo District News 2001 30 under 30 issue, awarded first place in the Women’s Press Photographers Association in 2004, and has shown her work at the Zilka Gallery in Middletown, CT. Additionally her photographs have been published in the New York Times, Mother Jones Magazine, New York Magazine, the Daily News, and City Limits Magazine. She has lectured at Rhode Island School of Design, International Center of Photography, and the Columbia School of Journalism.