Artists Statement | Excerpt by Thomas Barrow
From the Introduction to
A Change of Mind: An Alzheimer's Portrait, 2003
By Thomas Barrow, Department of Art, University of New Mexico

Joyce Culver's documentary essay helps fill this photographic void. Her images have some of the qualities of a snapshot album with a deeply tragic theme. They are the kind of photographs that fill family albums around the world. Her dad sits on a park bench, her mom shows off a pie she has just baked, a family group gathers on a golf course. The colors are often from a palette we associate with joy, and the locations are those that suggest photographic opportunities thousands of times a day, everywhere. Yet, while family members arrange their best face for the camera, one member is increasingly less and less present. The disappearance is most vividly captured in one frightening image: Dad at the Stockyard Restaurant, which shows a searing, hellish, red world, with a drawn, sad-eyed central figure that is Culver's father, sitting in a figurative hell that mimics the literal one of having no recollection of a life lived.

It is a cruel and poignant irony that photography, considered by many to be the ultimate repository of our cultural memory since its invention, would be used to illustrate the ravages of Alzheimer's. The disease that removes all historic knowledge.