Grace is a mother, writer, architect, and American housewife. As a Christian, Grace is interested in balancing her orthodox Biblical beliefs in every aspect of her life, be it raising her son or curating her Modernist home. During our sessions, I got a glimpse of how she juxtaposes her aesthetics and fashion, her curiosity about life and her conservative spiritual beliefs.
Grace shares her experience in her own words:
What was the experience of being photographed for this project like for you?
Having been on photo shoots for the architectural firm, it was interesting to be on the receiving end. I was aware of how you were setting up the shots and what might or might not inspire you. It was fascinating to try to figure out what was in your brain. How do you see me? How will you present me? Do I matter or is it just the composition? I didn’t feel self-conscious – except when I was standing in the front yard to potentially pose in my bathing suit!
How do you see the images of yourself?
I see them both as an image of myself, but also as your artistic expression. So on the one hand, it’s a bit embarrassing to be presented as a modern-day odalisque – a woman of leisure – but on the other hand, it’s a beautiful, if fantastic version of my home and my self.
As an image of myself, the bathroom shot is flattering – I also “get it” as a composition – volume, color, geometry. But it’s a bit too personal for me to hang on the wall…
The deck shot is one that I can’t get past, even though the geometry and drama of the shot literally draws you in. The warping of the lens and the deepening of the shadows are very unflattering and I can’t even look at it in an artistic light. As much as I love the composition, I can’t look at my face!
What did you learn about yourself and/or the role of being an American Housewife from this process?
What I love best is that I am an “American Housewife” without any hyphenations. In fact, you don’t hyphenate anybody. I like that.
The other thing I’ve thought about is, I know I live a pretty comfortable life, and I am immensely grateful for it, but to see it “put on paper” is causing me to feel a bit self-conscious. I have a wonderful husband, a lovely home, and only one child who is starting to be pretty independent. So I have resources – including time! But! I am not like “The Housewives of…” women that boast in their overindulgences and selfishness. I want to live a modest and holy life – where my riches are shared and do not take an important seat in my heart. I don’t by any means think it’s wrong to be comfortable, but I do not want people to think I revel in or boast in it. Yes, I am glad to be comfortable – and I thank God every day in the summer as I turn on the air conditioning! ha – but at the same time, my monetary resources as well as freedom with time, I want to be used as gifts to enrich others.
What would you like to change in terms of support and peoples’ perception about the challenges of being a housewife?
I’m 55, and come to “housewifery” late in my life, so I don’t have a lot of issues with how others perceive me. Meaning, I’m pretty comfortable with myself and I’m pretty confident. I don’t need anybody’s approval or validation to know who I am. When my husband and I are at a function, some people don’t seem to know how to talk to me, because I’m not there as a professional in my own right, but as someone’s spouse. I think those who don’t feel the need to talk to me because I can’t do anything for them – meaning I’m not in a position of power through a job. So I then understand that that person doesn’t value people for people, don’t converse to relate to a human being or learn something, but approach people in a sort of Macchiavellian way. But I’ve also noted that people are learning how to talk to spouses. I really value those people. I did my years of being resentful and fighting perceptions (of women, of minorities.) I did my share of reading and holding seminars and whatever. I’m done with that part of my life. I have other things to do now.
Through my faith and the work of women before me, I get to define what it is to be a housewife, and my husband doesn’t impose his preconceptions on me – if he even has any. He was attracted to me largely because I was (am) a strong, intelligent woman. I have the privilege now of raising a son who sees women as strong and intelligent, where the father respects the mother (and visa versa.) My job now is to raise my son to be a loving, “God-fearing” man.
Although Grace has not been an active blogger since partaking in a more direct role in homeschooling her young son, she has still occasionally been a guest blogger over the years. One of her first ever guest posts was recently updated and is one of the most searched on the blog. Two of her most popular posts:
One of her past architectural projects:
Grace was a joy to shoot and obviously a wise, reflective and articulate writer. What better way to redefine the term “Housewife” than to simply quote from the source!
The American Housewife is a series of portraits by Photographer Dave Moser that attempts to explore and redefine the modern “housewife.” You can learn more about Dave and see more work on his website. To discuss more, leave a comment!