Mothers and Daughters is a portrait and interview project, taking a look at the complex, identity framing family relationship. My own mother, Marjorie Cumbo, suffered from a bipolar disorder and passed away from cancer over 20 years ago, (I was 19).
Her influence on me was profound, as is her absence. My work ethic, my creativity, and unfortunately my likelihood of developing cancer are all things I can attribute to her. After testing positive for the BRACA2 gene, I opted to take preventative measures that have greatly reduced my odds of getting breast or ovarian cancer, but have also erased the possibility of me having a biological child. As I made those decisions I thought about my mother and our relationship a lot.
I started the project by photographing and interviewing ‘older’ daughters and their mothers mainly because that was a relationship I did not have the opportunity to have. As an adult I’ve always been so fascinating by my close friends’ relationships with their mothers. At 19 you think you’re grown, I think I only figured out I was not about another 10 years or so after that. I opened the project up to any age old enough to answer my q&a as a tribute to the daughter I can not have myself.
Helen, Genna, and Marcy
Helen: Mothering Marcy has taught me the true meaning of being supportive. I have learned from her how to listen and encourage without giving unasked for advice or judgments. By asking for what she needs and wants from me, at an early age, she has helped teach me how to give it to her. She has helped me to be a better mother and friend.
Aiesha and Zenzele
Zenzele: I share joy, happiness, and we are silly…I am shy and my mommy is not.
Sara and Joyce
Sara: My value as a woman. My mom is an intelligent, hardworking, self-assured woman, and she has always encouraged and empowered me to value myself, express my ideas and never restrict my expectations for myself based on the fact that I am female in a world that is (often) dominated by men.
Emily and Rosie
Emily: I learn something from her everyday. She is so smart, and I love her mind. She is my inspiration, and we both inspire each other . She is my heart, my Pooh bear.
Erin and Mikaela
Erin: Mikaela has taught me to reel it in sometimes. To stop and slow down. That I don’t always have to be right or work so darn hard towards a particular goal. She’s taught me how to be appreciative of smaller things and moments in time. I trust Mikaela’s intuition more than anyone else in the world.
Check out the rest of the project so far at JenaCumbo.com.
Photos by: Jena Cumbo