Tag Archives: Abuse

My Mother’s Dolls part 3

My Mother’s Dolls part 3

This project began organically in December 2009 as a way for me to get to know the mother I truly never knew. The camera brought me connection and separation, all at once. I was given the gift of intuitive observance and another gift of recording that observance. I learned to be bold and vulnerable simultaneously. Eight years later, I am continuing my photo essay on my mother called He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard. It’s as if the project took on a life of its own once I started. I sometimes wonder if genetic memory of being a second-generation Holocaust survivor triggered my need not only to recognize but also to spend years of my life creating photos, editing those photos and turning this project into a book, to help tell this story of a social injustice — domestic violence — about which more stories need to be told.

I dreaded being indiscreet, but invading my mother’s and my privacy was the only way to tell this story. I am sharing my mother with the larger audience because eventually publishing a book on her story would be a small victory. She instills such hope in me. I am witness to her heart and her immense reservoir of compassion for humanity. Her entire being is imbued with the quiet principles of spirituality: living in the moment, being non judgmental, forgiving, and kind.

My father used to tell me that what happened to his family and the Jews in Europe in World War II could easily happen again. So I question everything and that’s part of my storytelling aim as a photographer: questioning and sharing. We are only here for a short time so part of my goal is to create something positive for humanity. I love photography because each person will interpret an image through their own individual eyes. Ernest Hemingway said we should write hard and clear about what hurts. I believe this translates to all art forms. This blog is part three of My Mother’s Dolls. It’s an edit of my mother with various dolls she loves, that keep her company day and night.

© hannah kozak

May 16, 2014

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26 May 2014

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23 Nov 2014

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8 December 2014

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8 March 2015

© hannah kozak

4 April 2015
After moving into new facility.

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17 April 2015

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23 April 2015
With Olivia and baby Olivia

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13 June 2015

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14 June 2015

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19 June 2015

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22 June 2015

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12 July 2015

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12 July 2015

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22 July 2015

As a bittersweet sidenote, I was awarded the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, 6th Edition, 1st Prize – single Documentary photo from my series on my mother —
He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard.

This project also made it to the finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography 2014.http://firstbookprizephoto.com/hannah-kozak-2014-finalist/

And, this project make it to semi-finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography, 2016.

Early this week I asked my mother what she does every night. She said “I pray to G-d to help me.” “To help me with happiness, I don’t know how to explain.” And then she said “The hardest part of my life is accepting things.” “I want to be like you, Hannah. I want to walk.”

My Mother’s Dolls part 3


My Mother’s Dolls part 2

My Mother’s Dolls part 2

This is Part Two of the series, My Mother’s Dolls. These photos are a continuation of the series: He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard, which began in December 2009. My mother is in a wheelchair, brain damaged from her second husband’s abuse. She cannot pick up the phone when she is feeling lonely to hear a familiar voice. Or take a walk in the neighborhood, listening to birds singing. Reading a book isn’t an option. She can’t reach out for a dog or cat to pet. Yet she manages to smile at the littlest things, like her dolls. Small reassuring beings, friends in quiet moments.

I have been a participant observer, documenting my mother’s nearly adult lifetime confinement to a nursing home after a brutal beating by her second husband.

I will continue to focus on the comfort objects that help my mother get through her day. These nurturing dolls are my mother’s friends, day and night.

Hannah_Kozak_My_Mother's_Dolls-1109

© hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Guatemalan doll

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

In emergency room

© hannah kozak

Dora and Hello Kitty

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

Dinner time

© hannah kozak

 © hannah kozak

My mother was having lunch. I walked into her room and saw her freshly made bed.

My Mother’s Dolls part 2


My Mother’s Dolls

My Mother’s Dolls

Forgiveness and Compassion

My mother’s birthday is around the corner, and I am ironing nametags onto the various stuffed animals I have chosen for her. I run the hot silver plate over the back of a stuffed grey and black kitty, sealing my mother’s name onto his back, making it hers. My mother loves her stuffed animals. They are her companions, keeping her company and bringing her comfort during the day and late at night.

My mother is in a wheelchair, brain damaged from her second husband’s abuse. She cannot pick up the phone when she is feeling lonely to hear a familiar voice. Or take a walk in the neighborhood, listening to birds singing. Reading a book isn’t an option. She can’t reach out for a dog or cat to pet. Yet she manages to smile at the littlest things, like her dolls. Small reassuring beings, friends in quiet moments.

I have been a participant observer, documenting my mother’s nearly adult lifetime confinement to a nursing home after a brutal beating by her second husband.

http://hannahkozak.com/he-threw-the-last-punch-too-har/

My mother is the longest living resident in her home for the aged. When she entered the home, we had run out of options. I understood her anger. I’d be pissed, too, if I ended up crippled, but the women taking care of her couldn’t handle her explosions from frustration. My mother was a passionate brunette from Guatemala who used to dance the Flamenco. My uncle told me men would throw their wallets at her. Today she is incapacitated to the point where she cannot walk, feed or clothe herself.

This is Part One of the series, My Mother’s Dolls.

These photos are a continuation of that series; He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard, which began in December 2009. I am focusing here on the comfort objects that allow my mother to get through the day, nurturing and loving dolls that stand in for the life she lost.

My mother's new dolls for Mother's Day 2014

My mother’s new dolls for Mother’s Day 2014

My mother in Guatemala.

My mother in Guatemala.

@ hannah kozak

Olivia, her favorite

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The Snowman

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Another favorite – doll I brought her from Antigua, Guatemala.

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

My mother and MJ Thriller doll

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

As a bittersweet sidenote, I was awarded the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, 6th Edition, 1st Prize – single Documentary photo from my series on my mother, He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard.

That project also made it to the finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography 2014.

http://firstbookprizephoto.com/hannah-kozak-2014-finalist/

My Mother’s Dolls


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