For 27 years since 1991, Deanna Dikeman took photographs as she waved goodbye and drove away from visiting her parents at their home in Sioux City, Iowa. “I just took these photographs as a way to deal with the sadness of leaving. It gradually turned into our goodbye ritual.”
These photographs are from a larger body of work called Relative Moments, which has chronicled the lives of her parents and other relatives since 1986. When she discovered the series of accumulated “leaving and waving” photographs, she found a story about family, aging, and the sorrow of saying goodbye.
In the progression of the photographic narrative, we see seasons change from winter to spring and back again. Her son grows from an infant in a car seat to a young man at the steering wheel. As silent passengers, we accompany the photographer on her seasonal pilgrimages home, her camera marking the passage of time, aging and mortality with candor and affection. By the end, her lens has lost its subjects.
“In 2009, there is a photograph where my father is no longer there. He passed away a few days after his ninety-first birthday. My mother continued to wave goodbye to me. Her face became more forlorn with my departures. In 2017, my mother had to move to assisted living. For a few months, I photographed the goodbyes from her apartment door. In October of 2017 she passed away. When I left after her funeral, I took one more photograph, of the empty driveway. For the first time in my life, no one was waving back at me.”
About Deanna Dikeman
Deanna Dikeman was born in 1954 in Sioux City, Iowa, USA, and currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri. She has photographed her midwestern family and surroundings since 1985, when she left a corporate job to try a photography class. She has M.S. and B.S. degrees from Purdue University. She received an Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship in 1996, and the United States Artists Booth Fellowship in 2008. Since 1988, Deanna has had 23 solo shows and has been included in over 160 group shows. Her photographs have been public art projects in Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; and Albany, New York. “A Photographer’s Parents Wave Farewell” was one of the top 25 stories of 2020 in The New Yorker.
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