COLORED PICTURES, from the series "Cancer In Our Lives"
© copyright 2005 by Tee A. Corinne

In February 2003, my lover of fourteen years was diagnosed with metastasized colon cancer. The surgeon said she'd be dead in a year and a half. As an artist, I needed something more immediate than the black and white darkroom practices I have used since the 1960s. So, early in the second year of our shared life with her cancer, I learned to use a digital camera, then Adobe Photoshop and new ways to process and print photographs. This altered way of working introduced drama and emotional coloration.

Often my world seemed like it was spinning out of control. Both of us experienced nausea, although for different reasons. Her body had been reconfigured by science. Without modern medicine, she would be dead. We passed the year-and-a-half mark. She went onto Hospice care, but didn't die in the fall, as her oncologist had expected. Now, it is winter.

The social worker says that she may go from seeming to be healthy to being too ill to drive or take care of herself in a period of six hours. Any six hours. We don't know when. She may then die within a few days to a few weeks. This scenario is expected to take place sometime within the next six months. Tumors in her liver. Expectations of cataclysmic change.

Problems keep developing from unexpected directions: anger, resentment, issues of abandonment, betrayal. Working together, we have begun to push the polite boundaries of portraiture.

These images we are making are collaborative. It does not matter which of us is behind the camera or if we use a self-timer. They are shaped by who we are, how we are responding to these constantly changing realities, and who we have been individually and together over the past sixteen years. The text and arrangement of the photographs are, for the most part, mine.

In my creative life, I have longed for this kind of partnering. I am so lucky to have been with her this long.

January 25, 2005

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