Dona Schwartz: On the Nest
Portfolio Introduction

On the Nest
work in progress

I can think of few experiences that changed my life as profoundly as my first child’s birth. With my newborn’s arrival, my identity, social status, and self-concept forever changed. During the months leading up to his birth, I busily readied my nest. In that process, my ideals, my hopes, and my naïve assumptions were invested in and revealed by the material objects I assembled for him: the used crib I lovingly refinished, the bedding I sewed, the toys I bought, and the books I shelved. Through portraits situated in the spaces prepared for children, On the Nest explores this transitional moment and seeks to discover the range of approaches expectant parents bring to the act of nurturing a new generation.

I am equally interested in the transition to life without children as I draw closer to presiding over an empty nest. I am curious about how parents experience this new life stage. Is the empty nest greeted with relief? Sadness? Joy? Anxiety? What becomes of the spaces once occupied by children? Are their rooms preserved as a shrine or reclaimed for new uses? Do totems of their childhood remain or has their presence vanished without leaving a trace? These spaces, too, offer clues about life experience, our sense of the past, and expectations for the future.

Through this portrait series I am exploring moments of profound change, and in doing so, I hope to offer a nuanced depiction of what it means to create a new life.


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