(preview of) A book in image and word by Karen Davis

Photographs: Karen Davis; Text: the Morgan Orton family
Preface: Alison Nordström; Introduction: tba

Hammock by Karen Davis

A Family Portrait: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back is a twenty-two year visual and textual portrait of a family as it cruises along, gets clobbered by a treacherous childhood illness and then moves forward.

Amidst the quotidian of life—jobs, moves, school, family and friends—the book reveals the wrenching and transformative experience of becoming a family that includes a severely disabled child and living with all that brings.

Early years at the beach by karen davis
Early years at the beach

Throughout the years, jolted by a terrible disease (Childhood Onset Schizophrenia), the four Morgan Ortons have shown love, persistence, courage and an infectious humor.  They have not only received the warmth and support of neighbors, community, family and mental health and educational institutions, but they have also contributed much to the wellbeing of others in similar circumstances.

Family at Home, Berkeley Heights, 2017 by Karen Davis
Berkeley Heights, 2017

I am related to the family through marriage. My earliest photographs of them coincided with my first black and white darkroom class twenty-four years ago.  Thankfully, as a new photographer exploring the medium, parents Meredith and Ed and children Parker and Maggie were willing subjects. As the years passed, no matter what the circumstances, their continuous support of my work has now made it possible for me to tell their story.

Karen Davis, Hudson NY 2018