Things My Dad Taught Me is a series of twelve images created to address the complexity of grieving a parent who has died from a stigmatizing death. In 2017, my dad died from an accidental drug overdose. Since his death, I have been visiting places that remind me of him. I go to the housing co-op where I grew up, to the swimming pool we used to go, to his old apartments, and the last place I saw him alive. Along the way I stop to take photographs of things that resonate with me as I reflect on our relationship, my childhood, and the things he taught me. Walking through the neighbourhoods I grew up in, I find myself compelled to capture things that look overgrown, neglected, and forgotten. But I see freedom in these things, reminding me of the lack of inhibition that my dad embodied throughout his life.
Since my dad’s death is entrenched in stigma that perpetuates the idea that someone who uses drugs is less worthy of life, and therefore less worthy of remembering, I have to stand up for him and explain that he was more than his drug use. I have to justify his goodness and continually go out on a controversial limb for a drug user, instead of simply mourning the loss of my father. Taking these photographs has been a way for me to reconnect with him and remember him in his complexity instead of just his faults. My dad was unique. A cat-lover, a mechanic, a carpenter, a goof, a friend, a caretaker, an alcoholic, and also a drug user.
This work is even more urgent during this time of spiking overdoses. People who live in British Columbia are currently five times more likely to die from a drug overdose than of Covid-19.
Visitation is by appointment; please contact [email protected].
Online exhibition gachetfromaway.org