Andrew Bruah lives and works in Oak Park, IL with his wife and daughter. He received his BFA in photography from Columbia College, Chicago, and his MFA in photography from Hartford Art School. He has spent the last 10 years working as a freelancer in the field of Architectural Photography, but spends his time outside of work photographing everything but architecture.
Along the Des Plaines (other places)
This submittal is a selection from a larger unreleased book series titled “Along the Des Plaines (other places)”. The work derives from the two years after my daughter’s birth, and is the culmination of my ongoing examination of self through the exploration of the landscape around me. It is a reflection upon being a new father, and a study upon the ineffabilities of life. Just before our daughter was born, my wife found a little midcentury condo tucked away in the historic district of Oak Park, Illinois, and 8 months into the pregnancy we moved in. After she was born, I would take my daughter on walks amongst the homes we could never afford. With camera in hand as my daughter slept, I took pictures of my new world as I worried about the future. I would think about the privileges my parents afforded me, which I cannot afford for my daughter. I would think about my career choice and the long hours and the student loans. I thought about my struggle with anxiety and depression, about aging, my body twisting and tightening from the atrophy of a paralyzed arm at birth. I thought of how the neck and back pain I occasionally experienced is visiting more frequently. I thought about my wife and how lucky I am to have her. And I thought about my baby Ella. For the first 6 months Ella’s colic would peak from 5pm to late into the night. My wife and I would take shifts holding our child as she screamed uncontrollably. On one particularly bad night, as my wife was in our bedroom trying to sleep, I was kneeling over my crying child in our living room, begging her to stop. Her body was purple from screaming. I just watched her as she lay on the carpet, my own tears running down my face. I imagined neurons crossing paths, turning taste to sound or sight becoming a sharp pain that leaves a lump in one’s throat, or whatever horror was happening inside of my daughter’s brain. In that moment I remember wishing I knew how to be a better father. As my baby grew into a toddler, she became less willing to let me snap pictures, so our picture-making walks became less frequent. In late January 2017 I began to photograph alone in the local forest preserves. John Berger said that “The camera relieves us of the burden of memory.” I have always loved that quote for its reductive sharpness. Unfortunately I am beginning to think that this particular quote puts too much emphasis on narrative influences that have since been debunked, or at least demystified. In the end I am not looking to remake self, only understand it.
To view more of Andrew Bruah’s work please visit his website.