We photographed our first subject on a cold and snowy day in February 2011. My assistant of 5 years called in sick, a first, leaving me with my second assistant on her first day of assisting ever. We decided to move ahead as I had already been delayed a year, mainly due to the writer vacillating on numerous concerns and subjects’ apprehensions. Ironically, the writer, also a housewife, would later decline to be photographed as she felt being identified as a housewife would hurt her career.
For the sake of this project, we define the term housewife as a person (not necessarily female) who works less then 40 hours “outside the home”, and is married (including separated) with kids — a purposely loose definition. This loose and open definition would invite a population who could help redefine a term laden with baggage and stereotypes. While the project was open, I photographed all comers who fit the definition.
I would always scout a subject’s home, allowing me to meet him or her in person, better preparing them for the experience. We used their clothes, their home and collaborated with each subject — investigating and learning what this role entailed through imagery. Although a housewife is a role normally defined by family, I asked that the subject be the only one present. I did not wish to see others within the frame, only the narrative suggested.
Brenda has three sons, a daughter, and a strong interracial marriage. Among the demands of housewifery and marriage, she is a successful artist working in her home studio in encaustic, fibers and mixed media. As we started to strike the set, her youngest son (then 11) returned from school. He sequestered himself to the den and appeared quite sad. Brenda, our hero, went to him and spent sometime to uncover what was upsetting this 6th grader. Always at the ready, always with heart, always willing to jump in and learn and grow in order to support her family, our future.