Survivorship Storytelling: An Ongoing Transformative Portrait & Interview Series on Domestic Violence.
2014 - Present
In 1975 in Compton, California, in a drunken rage, my grandfather shot and killed my grandmother in front of my father and two days after their divorce was final. Mableine Nelson Barlow died at 36 and left 7 children motherless. My grandfather never was punished for his crime due to his high powered connections with corrupt law enforcement.
My grandfather became sober and religious and was let back into the family. They never spoke of Mableine or the circumstances of her death. I only of my grandfather as a loving man until my father told me the truth about her passing when I was 16. I was deeply conflicted.
When my grandfather died in 2013, he gifted me his beloved camera. My grandfather was an avid photographer of minimal means, documenting his life through several pictures with the family, while my grandmother only has 3 pictures representing her life. Her existence has nearly been erased.
In 2014, I started Unconventional Apology Project in honor of my grandmother. I am using my grandfather's camera as a tool to take the portraits of 36 survivors of domestic violence, or the family members of those who did not survive. The number represents the age my grandmother was when she passed. Each participant is interviewed and asked a series of 7 questions, representing the number of children Mableine had, to understand their perspective and to know them beyond their experience with violence. They are forming their legacy on their terms and being depicted in a state free of violence. Each participant wears blue, which is my grandmother's favorite color. Read their stories at unconventionalapology.com.