When artist Tony Luciani’s elderly mother Elia moved in with him, he didn’t see it as a burden. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to start a wonderful project with his new camera — he needed a subject and Elia was the perfect model.
Elia suffers from dementia, meaning she often recalls memories from years gone by but can’t remember the last minute, hour, or day. Tony decided to use this as inspiration for testing out his new camera — a short-term project that was to span almost 2 years.
The series of photos portray Elia’s dementia in a unique and personal way, fusing her distant memories with her current reality.
From One Caregiver To Another
Tony describes how his mother was always his caregiver but now the roles have reversed. He wanted to include Elia in the project to make her feel productive and show his true love and adoration for her.
“She’s always been someone who participated and gave more than she received.”
More Than Just Another Art Project
Elia is still pretty active and goes for small walks often, stopping by a bench or sitting under a tree by herself.
Although looking after his elderly mother has been lonely at times, Tony believes the photography has given back more than he could have asked for.
“I’m doing more work, and I’m not at the beach. I’m at the studio and I’m creating and I’m doing photographs,” he said. “And with her here as my model, it’s every artist’s dream to have a model that I can call — and there she is.”
Dealing With The Heartache Of Dementia
Tony says the project has been successful due to the love he has for his mother and has helped him really re-evaluate the relationship he has with her.
Dementia can be emotionally hard on the loved ones of those suffering with the disease, but finding a truly involving and productive way to explore and deal with the journey has helped both Tony and Elia in their life together.
“Here I thought, initially, I was going to be the brave guy and take her into my home, rather than shoving her into a nursing home or assisted living, and having my life disrupted and all that. But what I got out of it was more than I gave.”
Featured photo credit: Tony Luciani via tonyluciani.ca