In his new show, candid fine art photographer Lee Kilpatrick turns his lens away from friends and strangers and towards his late sister. In photos spanning 20 years, Kilpatrick documents his sister’s life as it moves from apparent youthful possibility to her death at age 42.
In previous shows, Kilpatrick has honed in on quiet, personal or awkward moments at social events, including wedding receptions, parties, cookouts and corn mazes. This time, approaching the second anniversary of his sister’s death shortly after Christmas 2013, he focuses on a private life that was never far from his eye.
“Her death was unexpected, but not surprising,” says Kilpatrick. “For the previous 30 years, she had experienced mental health issues and related alcoholism. At holiday gatherings, she often exhibited quiet disconnection and unease due to some combination of paranoia, depression, alcohol and mind-clouding medication. She rarely went out in public. These photos show how small her world had become, a situation that, despite my family's hopes, never improved.”
Images of stereotypical success in everyday life, such as her wedding, contrast with later photos of her alone in more desolate surroundings, from a living room to a winter landscape to, finally, the hospital.
An abbreviated set of these photos has been shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography