One of my earliest memories is a night at the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. I was in an exam room with my mother and my brother James. He was only a toddler at the time and he was crying, unable to understand what was happening. The doctors had attached wires to his head in an attempt to force a seizure, hoping to find out what was happening inside his brain. Twenty years later, I had a similar experience, but this time the wires are attached to my mother’s chest.
As a response to the presence of disease in my family, I consider what it means to be ill through examining the roles of the patient, doctor, and hospital in treatment and healing. My mother’s heart surgery and recurring admittance to the hospital spurred an interest in examining the longevity of illness and the feeling of sameness associated with being a continual patient. In the hospital, time becomes an element that exists in slow motion, yet it continues to hurry by beyond the hospital doors. Though the use of monotony, repetition, and seemingly long durations, I construct unusual narratives and environments that walk a space between reality and the surreal. As my mother strives for control over her own illness, she continues to care for my epileptic brother. Her world is filled with doctor visits, medications, and blood tests, in the daily management of both her illness and my brother’s. Their continual contact is part of what defines both his and my mother’s state of existence.
Jennifer Wilkey (Syracuse, NY) received her Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and her Bachelor of Fine Art from the Southern Illinois University in 2005. In 2009, she completed her MFA in Art Photography from Syracuse University. While at Syracuse, she taught color photography and worked for the artist Carrie Mae Weems. She also taught in multiple community art programs in elementary and high schools in the surrounding area. She has shown work at Project Basho (Philadelphia, PA) and the ARC Gallery (Chicago, IL). She was awarded a Professional Scholarship Grant from the Lucie Foundation in 2010.