Punk Rock Mommy is a collaboration between Andrea Collins Smith and Jonathan Olshefski. The website was created a few days after Andrea Collins Smith was diagnosed with cancer. She wrote eloquently and intimately as she strove to fully live while her body was dying.
This website is an extension of the gallery show. With limited space we are not able to fully express the depth and power of Andrea's message. Here you can read the entirely of the writings/recordings that were excepted in the gallery show.
Browse the virtual photo gallery. Click on the "continued" link to access the quote in it's entirety.
Blog. I hate that word. It is so silly and trivial. I thought of this as an online journal. One designed to keep my loved ones aware of what was happening to me. I wrote as honestly as I was able. I have looked at many older entries and realized that my feelings about death, dying, and cancer changed as I grew more sick. While I never feared death I often feared treatment.
Cancer treatment is hard. Really hard. The chemo, scans, medications...it is physically daunting. I was willing to subject myself to it all to have even a little more time with my husband,children,and loved ones. It was worth it. I would say that I packed a lot of living into that year while I was dying. I was still me. I was still engaged with my friends. I still was able to love and be here for all of them when they needed me. I still changed diapers and played games.
I am sure that some of you are profoundly saddened by my passing. Death is far more about the living than the dead. But I believe in my whole heart that this is what was meant to be for us all.
Thank you all for participating in my life. For providing sweet words of encouragement and prayer. I pray that none of you will ever get cancer, it sucks. But if you do or someone you love does I pray some of my words are a comfort to you all. Have a wonderful life. I will have a wonderful afterlife.
Shortly after Andrea's diagnosis we decided to collaboratively document the experience of living with cancer. Andrea would write while I took photos and shot video. At the time we didn't know the extend of her illness, but after it was discovered that her disease was terminal we decided to continue.
During those fifteen months I shot over 1,200 photographs and the blog went viral.
Andrea's final request to me was to try to get the Punk Rock Mommy project published as a book. This is a step in that transition from glowing pixels to a warmer, more tactile medium that better represents Andrea's essence. This show represents a transition from the digital to the analogue. I printed everything is a darkroom from 35mm negatives that bear a physical link to Andrea. The film was struck by light reflected from her body. The prints themselves share this link as they are made by again passing light through that same film.
This analogue photographic process is a metaphor for the light that Andrea shared. Those illuminated by it carry it within themselves and pass on to others. I hope that sharing Andrea's story in this way will serve as an extension of that light.
The short quotes in the show do not do justice to Andrea's deep and powerful writing. The book is a better medium for this. This website is another way to more fully express Andrea's message.
Meg Lemieur: Poster Design, Production Support
Chris Brunkhart: Book Layout Designs
Kristen Moore: F&N Gallery Coordinator
Circle of Hope
Collins and Smith Families
Holly, Caleb, and Zeke