Online Exhibition: 2014 Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship Honorable Mention

  May 10 - July 6

Talya Arbisser
A Visual Diary: Saba Savta
2014 Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship Honorable Mention

This series focuses on my paternal grandparents, “Saba Raffi” and “Savta D’vorah” Arbisser, who live in Houston. He is 89 and she is 87 and they married 66 years ago. They have three children, none of whom reside here. I enjoy a close relationship with my grandparents, and I moved to Houston in 2010 to provide support and assistance to them. I began this series in 2012 as a way to understand their experiences and to shed light on growing older in a society that values youth and health. Over time, my grandparents have become comfortable with being photographed. I want others to see the moments that nobody really sees.

The ten photographs presented for this fellowship application pertain to issues of healthcare and aging. Most of them show my grandparents at appointments with a wide variety of health professionals. Other images show that my grandparents need progressively more assistance with some of their activities of daily living (ADL).

Trained as a documentary photographer, my series reflects the broader health care issues among the growing elderly population and the concerns facing many families in the United States today. My project will explore a range of complex issues, including: quality of life; social roles; family and intergenerational relationships; the economics of retirement; activities of daily living; healthcare, illness, disability and death.

Discussions about escalating medical costs, public policy and end-of-life care are hotly debated topics. With advances in medicine and declines in mortality rates, the “oldest old” — those aged 85 and older — are the most rapidly growing elderly age group. As I drive my grandparents to their various appointments, I am learning about their increasing degree of frailty. They have numerous co-morbidities that adversely impact their ability to thrive. Through my photographs and accompanying text, I want to foster dialogues about these important and complex issues.

During FotoFest 2014, previews of this continuing series will be shown at two alternative spaces: Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center and UT Art Wall of University of Texas Medical School.

Talya Arbisser