Two years ago, Gram fell down. She broke her hip and during her recovery, my mom photographed her emphatically. I found this surprising because it was something I’d never seen my mother do. But I quickly understood she was trying to hold on to someone we all feared losing. Gram’s broken hip exposed our vulnerability and my mom’s photographic panic triggered mine.
Somewhere in my late teens, Gram and I began speaking openly with each other. Through this exchange, a friendship was born. Gram evolved into a real, multi-dimensional person—not just my grandma. For the past two years, since her fall, Gram and I have created photographs together. We decided to use Polaroids so we could have a palm-sized, two-dimensional artifact of our bond in 60 to 90 seconds.
The pictures are not an actual reflection of my grandmother’s reality. Gram doesn’t normally throw confetti or wear kimonos. But what had started as a game evolved into more complexly staged scenes, concocted to amuse my grandmother. This formerly unstoppable woman deserved to feel wild and free and to have returned to her a kind of freedom that she was slowly being denied.
One of photography’s strengths is its ability to produce, sustain and validate fantasy. Even if the pictures don’t mirror her world, Gram and I agree that they reflect her spirit. More importantly, our photographic collaboration, born out of a deep love and mutual respect, is a memory she holds on to. The actual pictures are secondary.
Morgan Levy is a freelance photographer currently living in Denver, Colorado. Originally from Philadelphia, she received her BFA in photography from Tisch School of the Arts at N.Y.U. Her editorial work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Esquire, California Sunday Magazine, and The Guardian. Her fine art work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including a solo show at the Gulf & Western Gallery, group exhibitions at the New York Photo Festival, PhotoNola, The Invisible Dog Art Center, Winkleman Gallery and Colorado Photographic Arts Center. Her work was selected for AI-AP 31 as well at Review CENTER Santa Fe. She is the recipient of the 2015 Lucie Foundation Emerging Artist Scholarship.