I first witnessed Art when I was 8 years old. I came upon a black and white photo print, taken by my dad, in a paper folder under my parent’s bed. The moment I saw the photograph of my grandmother, I felt myself gasp, and I tried to breathe in every detail.
My grandmother’s face is not visible, but I am certain it is her. Her hands are framed by the sewing machine, as she pushes fabric through. A light reveals the creases of her weathered, yet loving hands. I can almost hear the machine chugging as the stitches pierce the fabric rhythmically.
My grandmother came alive to me in this 2-dimensional image, even though she had passed away when I was a toddler. My heart ached with a new reverence for my dad- it had not occurred to me that my idol had an idol of his own.
I imagined my dad at 12 years old, gripping his black and silver Minolta camera, one with no automated capability for zoom or focus. With the viewfinder raised to his eye, he quietly approaches his mother while she is sewing. She asks him, Khokha ki korchish thui? [Little boy, what are you doing?]. He doesn’t answer her, instead he steps closer until he is within one foot of the sewing machine. She is pushing the last of the fabric through the machine, and he waits, without breathing, for the moment that her hands are fully exposed. He clicks the shutter, just as she stands up and scolds him lovingly for being a silly boy.
He doesn’t know at that moment, that he captured the shot, or that it will leave an enduring mark on his daughter, more than 60 years later.