Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

Mother, May I?

Laurie says:

Later in February I’ll be going to NYC in part to speak at a memorial forTee Corinne by the Queer Caucus of the College Art Association Conference, a conference for teachers, curators, and artists. Tee was a founding member of the Queer Caucus of the CAA. The Caucus is sponsoring an exhibition “Mother, May I?” curated by Sheila Pepe at the Campbell Soady Gallery at The LGBT Community Center (208 W. 13th Street, NYC ). It runs from February 1 through April 26, 2007.

It includes this portrait of Tee I took about 2 months before she died.

Laurie's portrait of Tee

And this portrait from her “scars” series.

Tee self-portrait

Tee Corinne and I knew each other for many years. We changed mother and daughter roles with great frequency around our art. And since daughters often “mother” their own mothers, who was in which role was sometimes a little hard to call.

We gave each other motherly advice from our experience about our work and sometimes explained to each other in daughterly ways why the advice didn’t suit us.

Tee was a master of photographic self portraits. When I was photographing her last summer I could feel everything she wasn’t saying to me as I shot her photos. She truly wanted the photos to be my images. But I could still hear her “mother’s” voice telling me how to shoot, and in a very appropriately daughterly way I simultaneously ignored and was influenced by her words.

When she was diagnosed last February, my role transformed itself into almost exclusively daughter, in the obvious ways of helping her work on the future of her art after her death and taking on the responsibility of aesthetic curator for her “Scars, Stoma, Ostomy Bag, Portacath: picturing cancer in our lives” project.

Far more important for me was what I learned while watching her work and plan for the preservation and exhibition of her work after her death. Tee planned with great force and elegance for a very long artistic future. Watching and helping her seriously changed the way I see the long-term future of my own work. My choices are very different from Tee’s and I would not have made them without my experience with her. I can already hear her voice approving and disapproving of my choices. There is nothing more “motherly” than that.

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3 Responses to “Mother, May I?”

  1. stefanie Says:

    i am an art history student working on feminist and queer 20th C. american art, especially photography, so i have often looked at tee corinne’s work. your posts about her here and in other locations have been thoughtful and generous and so helpful in remembering her and her imagery. unfortunately i cant afford to attend this year’s caa, but i am sure your contribution and the other feminist activities planned will be a fitting memorial for corinne’s fantastic and important photography. thank you.

  2. Cassandra Langer Says:

    What a lovely photograph of Tee. I was so moved by it because it is not about Tee dying but Tee living as the wonderful, spiritual person she was. What remains is a sense of life and beauty and compassion. Tee always insisted on sensuality and honesty in her work and I think you have captured that in yours. Bravo!

  3. Laurie Says:

    Cassandra,

    Thank you so much!

    Your description of the work is exactly what I was trying to achieve.

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Laurie Toby Edison by Carol Squires

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