Julia Vandenoever  ·  Hidden Folds


After my mom died of cancer, I cleaned out her home in Vermont. In the pockets of her coats, pants, and sweaters, I found twenty-three old, used tissues.  As I extracted the first one from a deep pocket, a flood of warm memories washed over me and I felt peace.  The same tissues that had disgusted me as a child turned into an unexpected gift.  Representing moments of her daily life, each tissue connected me back to her.
Hidden Folds is a memorial to my mom and to the untold stories that I will never know. To me, these stories of hers lay hidden in the folds, creases, and crumples of each tissue. I long to know when and why each one was used and what she thought as she used it.

This collection was an unusual inheritance; nobody wanted these tissues but me. Anyone else would have thrown them away, but these twenty-three tissues have become something that I need to preserve, protect and discover.  I see each tissue as unique like a fingerprint.  Each time I photograph one, I reach back in time and connect to my mom, I touch something she touched, and the soft contours of the tissue lessen the permanence of my loss.




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