Delaney Hady

candidate for BFa in Photography 2020

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Delaney Hady was born in Kansas City, Missouri, 1997. She studies photography at The University of Kansas. She works in straight photography to analyze and document the psychological effects of childhood abuse in her personal life. She admires Walker Evans and his deadpan style while also referencing Joachim Ladefoged’s visual poetry in his project titled, A Place I Knew so Well. She creates to inform viewers about the vast challenges faced by those who have been abused and to process through her own trauma. Her camera is like a visual diary of her inner thoughts. In her work titled, From a Distance, she takes photographs of former or current spaces of play and pairs them with one of her childhood journals to give her inner child a voice. Delaney is now working out of Lawrence, Kansas and in the fall is continuing her education at Mid-America Nazarene University to pursue a Master’s Degree in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling.

I got my first camera when I was ten years old and I started photographing right by the creek. I can remember being outside on the bridge that my dad built over it. I felt safe there. All I needed to do to get to the creek was to walk out the back door and around the side of our house. It was 100 steps and the trees would swallow me whole. I don’t remember when my dad built the bridge.  I know I should remember, but I can’t. I don’t remember a lot of my childhood. Really only the hard things. Remembering the good feels too dangerous. My childhood feels like a constant early winter, looming.  Branches grew brittle and cracked overhead while the leaves fell slowly. The water trickled down the mud and there I sat, watching as it would make new pathways, hoping that the rain would come soon. I liked the day after it rained. The smells of damp leaves in the air and the slight chill of the breeze were a warning that I would soon have to go back inside, to the place home should have been but never was. I spent a lot of time outside. Outside was safe for me.

How can these conversations with myself be healing for other people? What sounds and tools will I need to express my ideas fully? Am I able to get out in imagery the emotions I experience due to the abuse I endured. Photographs are the relationship between photographer and subject. My work documents as I ask myself difficult, yet healing and confrontational questions. In therapy I have learned that I have to feel everything in order to heal. This cycle of thought has been ongoing for most of my life, now I am simply documenting.

I believe that this research and self-reflection is necessary to creating understanding for all and destigmatizing mental health. I expect this project to contribute to giving voice to many who have been silenced. I make this work to understand myself more, and in doing it I am giving understanding to parents, professionals, and peers who help bring healing to those experiencing severe effects caused by trauma.

In this body of photographic work, titled From a Distance, I am looking at the effects of childhood trauma. I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Words, sounds, smells, and things I see can trigger intense feelings of despair, disgust, confusion, and melancholy. My work documents and observes the spaces people live in, as I process the world around me. Everything in focus, straight photography lends itself to me kindly as I seek to reprocess the past. I use my journals from the last ten years to connect my inner thoughts with what I see in front of my camera. I could never stand the pieces of paper that got left behind in my spiral notebooks when I tore out a page from my journal. For so many years, I have ripped out pages I wanted to ignore or keep quiet inside me.

 Spaces of play are turned to spaces of reflection. I am trying to understand why things like this happen in such unexpected places, like the homes of innocent children, where abuse should never occur. Using my camera, I feel a need to photograph these images that link my childhood experiences to the neighborhoods around me. When I see these spaces, I process through my childhood, what it was, and what I wish it had been. The act of taking a photograph functions as an outlet to express my childhood trauma as I decide how to move forward as an adult.

I see new things; I mourn them; I grieve them. Eventually I will not betray myself.

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