Anne Silver is an American artist who lives in Paris, France with her partner, Pierre. Anne studied at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work. She later went on to earn her clinical license and worked for 16 years as a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and loss, work that she describes as sacred, heart-rending, and profound. In addition to the vicarious trauma she was exposed to as a professional, Anne’s personal life has also been touched by enormous losses, including the suicide of her son in 2008 and most recently, a radical hysterectomy for endometriosis. You can see more of Anne’s work on her website and on Instagram.
This particular body of work is entitled “It’s the Wind We Remember,” a reference to the music of American indie-folk band Iron and Wine. The photos are made on medium format film, a nod to both of my children, who were fortunate enough to have been able to study film photography and analog printing processes in high school. This is one of the threads that unites us. The series is an exploration of memory, of transition, of transformation. It is also an homage to resilience and hope. Many of the photos in this portfolio are self-portraits, though even in the ones that are not, there is an intimacy to the work.
Nothing affects us more intimately than traumatic loss. Somehow, in the most difficult of circumstances, we stumble along, we may even fall a few times, but we find a way to keep moving forward. I used to tell my clients that the central task of grief, the way of resolving the unthinkable, was holding on, while, at the same time, letting go. We never get over a profound loss. It’s like having some part of our body amputated. A vital part of our lives and our being is missing, something that can never be replaced. There is no getting over it; however, we can learn to live with it. We can choose to remember the unique quality of their voices, the warmth in their laughter, the way it felt when they wrapped their arms around us. We can honor the influence they had over our lives, how they helped us to become better versions of ourselves. We can allow ourselves to feel their presence in the breezes that blow. And, sometimes, those breezes nudge us forward, perhaps even calling us to other shores.
Letting go does not mean forgetting. It does not mean that we stop loving. It just means that we choose to continue to live our lives and to carry our loved ones with us wherever we go, nestled deep in the hollows of our bones.
A few months after my son died, when the blinding haze of grief started to lift, I came to realize that I was at a crossroads. Though my world had stopped, the rest of the world continued to turn madly around me. Life was happening whether I wanted it to or not. Time was marching forward. I could choose to remain in a sort of foggy netherworld between the living and the dead, or I could choose to emerge from the shadows and rejoin the living. In a moment of urgency, in order to not lose myself, in order to be present for my daughter and for those whom I love, I consciously chose to embrace life in all of its richness and mystery, in all of its light and shadow, in all of its beauty and pain.
It took nine years after my son’s death before I could start to make a body of work that spoke of my experiences with grief and how I have come to understand loss. It was actually lyrics from a song by Iron and Wine that inspired me to start creating photos that dealt with death and transformation. In the song “Upward Over the Mountain,” Sam Beam sings: “And so may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten. Sons are like birds, flying upward over the mountain.” And so, I think of the many souls, including my son, Ryan, who have made that journey, soaring on the tail of the wind, while the rest of us remain here on the ground, rooted in memory, safeguarded by the love we carry still, seeing the traces left on our hearts as they passed through our lives.
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