Dianne Yudelson is an award winning photographic artist from San Francisco. In her project Lost Yudelson documents the mementos of the children she lost, breaking down the social stigma of miscarriage.
Above: Lost: Bryce
Miscarriage is still very much a taboo subject. What brought you to create Lost?
Last July, after helping a friend through a painful loss I reflected on my own personal experience. These thoughts propelled me to take down the big white box in my closet which safeguards the mementos of my lost babies. It had been quite a while since I last took each item out and as I laid them on my bed I felt their story needed to be documented. I have read the assertion that meaningful art occurs when you share yourself and create from the depths of your soul. So I shared. Hopefully, in sharing the images I can touch the lives of numerous women who have experienced or are in the midst of experiencing the painful loss of a baby. They are not alone in their journey.
What role did your photography play in providing closure or resolution (if any) to these experiences?
When you share a deeply personal experience from your heart and soul, you will find that you touch the viewer of your image on a more profound level. They will identify with the human truth within the message of your piece. It is said that in giving you receive. I have found this to be true, especially when you give from the heart. In helping to heal others emotional pain from pregnancy loss, I have lessened my own.
I’m curious about your thoughts as you were making the work. Was it important to emotionally detach or was each session devoted to the individual loss when shooting?
When gathering the mementos for each individual image, I began with a real sense of devotion to that baby. When I stepped behind the camera I worked to maintain a balance of my emotional connections to the mementos and the technical and artistic eye necessary to capture the image.
What was it like to work with and handle such personal and emotionally invested items?
Working with my most private and precious items was humbling. I arranged these items in a manner I felt told the narrative in a humble and pristine fashion in direct correlation to their short and pure lives. When dedicating myself to creating something humble and pristine I decided to produce the images in black and white (white is the color of purity and innocence) using natural late afternoon light– those last bright moments of light before evening begins.
What personal barriers did you overcome in order to share it?
Personally I found that overcoming the pressures to stay silent about this type of loss is beneficial to a great majority. I believe everyone knows someone who has miscarried, be it mother, wife, sister, friend or coworker they simply have never spoken of it. When experiencing this type of loss other people can, in the hopes of being helpful, make insensitive comments inferring your grief is unreasonable– so you keep it private and locked away. Never hearing a conversation about miscarriage sets up a social, culture taboo.
What do you hope viewers take away from Lost?
I have received emails and messages from around the world from both women and men who have reached out to tell me their experience. What I hope evolves from the creation of my images is a broadening in the conversation and understanding of miscarriage, both physically and emotionally.
I would like to add that just last week there was a woman who spoke to me announcing that although she never suffered a miscarriage she was touched by my images. She said she thought my Lost series was important as it allowed me to document what might have been. I asked her to consider that it allowed me to document what was.