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I started using my father’s Brownie camera when I was ten years old. I loved making photos of my family and friends. I became intimate with photography from that point forward.

The year is 1972. I am twelve years old and my grandmother is dying of Leukemia in the West Hills Hospital. My mother is on the right wearing a favorite orange dress. Her older sister Esther is on the left. I made this photo of the two of them outside of the hospital. I love that my mother is showing her feelings while my aunt is striking a pose.

As my father and I drove away from the hospital for the last time, Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken” played on the car radio. I knew I’d never see my grandmother again. Two years later, my mother wound up at UCLA Hospital intensive care. Her abusive, alcoholic husband had beaten her up again, leaving her on the floor of the bedroom in their home. Thirty-two years later, my mother is the longest-living resident in a home for the aged that she entered at the age of forty-two.
This photograph is the last one I made of my mother before she was in a wheelchair for life. My life would never be the same. Photography became a way of dealing with my feelings and emotions.

image by
Hannah Kozak

Published as part of the “Early Works Project”,
curated by Laura Moya & Laura Valenti Jelen.