Ahndraya Parlato

In Who is Changed and Who is Dead, I use the life-changing events of my mother’s suicide and the birth of my children as the genesis for an expansive project exploring the contradictory and complex conditions of motherhood. The resulting image-text book threads the political and historical with the deeply personal, bringing together narratives from across genres and generations to create a nuanced and compelling body of work. Interwoven with my own writings are still lives, sculptures, photograms made from my mother’s ashes, and reenactments of 19th century ‘hidden mother’ images.

Included amongst these are my photographs of my children, who are shown with both a fidelity to maternal intimacy and a more distanced contemplation. Within this complexity I strive to find clarity around the fundamental questions of parenthood, mortality, and gender. Are my contemporary fears any different than the fears felt by mothers throughout history? Which anxieties are specific to having female children? And how is motherhood itself a construction?

Ahndraya Parlato has a BA from Bard College and an MFA from California College of the Arts. She has published three books of photography. Ahndraya has been awarded grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and is a 2024 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. Her most recent project, TIME TO KILL is forthcoming from Mack Books. Ahndraya teaches at the Rochester Institute of Technology.