Honoring Our Mothers by Sarah Elizabeth Lewis

By editor • Jul 10th, 2008 • Category: reviews

We often try to keep time positioned vertically, aligning our personal histories, created years or even minutes ago, to direct our new present. Our lineages remain straight up and down in our creative process too; mothers and fathers support children who might take collective dreams forward. Yet
vectors find strength if we torque their lines.

MacArthur winning Photographer and Photo Historian Deborah Willis and Photographer Hank Willis Thomas, a mother and her son, are showing us how it’s done. Creating photographs for the first time together after pioneering work on their own, “Progeny,” their current exhibition at Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in Miami, is more than a familial collaboration; it is honor paid through pictures. Not only does the show include work made by each individually, it pays homage to “mother wit” displayed below the lips of those who received it: “Believe him the first time,” “Kill them with kindness” and “Know what you are saying but don’t say everything you know.” One line in particular positioned next to a pregnant Mecca Brooks, a member of the Willis family, “They don’t tell you the water doesn’t stop,” takes on national significance given the tragedy of hurricane Katrina. It was there that our community had to lend support to one another, this show subtly remind us, mothers to sons, sons to mothers and on and on throughout the ages, throughout our world.

Sarah Lewis

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