"A portrait of my mother Betty Luros Knorr appears in my Belgravia series... taken in 1979 at 15 Lowndes Square, SW1, London, in the reception room framed by her books , when she was 59 with her own mother Gretchen Luros . My mom is sitting on the left with a cigarette in her hand. The photograph appears with text under the photograph which my mother helped me compose."
My Mom was a rock growing up. I don't have a single negative memory of her. She was endlessly selfless and endlessly supportive of her children and gave us the world, no matter what it took. As an adult, I've learned that her childhood was quite rough but you would have never known it. She turned her own dark childhood into a bright, near-perfect childhood for me. I can remember major turning points in my life and my own self-confidence and it was always sparked by Mom and Dad telling me I could do anything I wanted to do. They bought me my first camera, my first computer and whatever else it took to encourage me in my strengths. Now that I'm a parent myself, I look back and study how my parents raised me to know how to raise my own children. They nailed it and I'd certainly be nowhere without Mom.
My mother has a mild intellectual disability as a result of an iodine deficiency she had as a child. No one ever told me this when I was a kid. I grew up seeing many from her family, as well as my father and his side of the family, discriminating and ridiculing her. My aunts would laugh at her and say, “Your mother is mad”. As a young boy I was deeply affected and traumatized by this humiliation my mother had to face. I too was also ashamed being the son of a "mad‟ woman, which made me feel guilty. At times, I hated her for being an imperfect mother and made her cry. As time went by, I slowly got rid of this poisonous stereotyping of my beautiful, caring and innocent mother. I learned that I was wrong to think of her in that way. I realize now through her letters and her sensitive and unsophisticated writing, she wanted to connect to her son and tell him how fragile and alone she has been.
My mother died when Amelia was 3-1/2. Some how to cope with my grief over my mother’s death I start the now 12 year project photographing my daughter. Two books – a small, Amelia’s World, Aperture 2008 and now Amelia and the Animals, Aperture fall 2014, funded by the Aperture Kickstarter finishing May 30. The new book will be in memory of my mother, Helen and dedicated to Amelia and little Amelia, the capuchin monkey. I know all this information is unnecessary. I just needed to write it. My mother was a good person who had a very, very hard life. I wish she could see all that is happening now for Amelia and me. I am still so very heartbroken not having my mom. I think my mom would have like the two photos I selected, looking beautiful and fashionable in a real photo studio and the photo of my mom with her mother, who she loved and protected to the end.
My Mother: Rictavia Abramovitz Levin, 1905 - 2000. The war years weren’t much fun for any of the wives on the various Navy bases where we lived. None of them ever knew if they would see their husbands again and if they did, whether they would be in one piece. Through all that time of rationing, hand washing dishes and clothes in chlorinated water, mothering two pain-in-the-ass kids and worrying about my Dad, my Mother never, ever complained. She wrote my Father every night and chased rattlesnakes from under our trailer at Chase Field Naval Air Station Texas by day or Skunks and Rats away from our corrugated tin hut home at the Quantico, Virginia Marine base.
Credit: Lear Levine
"This is a photograph of my husband, Martin Bell’s mother Edith. This was taken at her 90th birthday party and she’s holding her great-grandchild Daisy (Martin’s grand-niece.) Edith is still in good health and about to turn 99-years-old on June 14th. She’s working on reaching 100 so she will get a letter from the Queen."