BORN TOO SOON

During my work on the “Minnesota 2000” project for the Minnesota Historical Society, I had the fortune to meet many wonderful people, each with an important story to tell.

The focus of my project was called “Raising and Educating Children.” One of the great freedoms I had during that project was the ability to choose different scenes and scenarios to include within that scope. One concept I felt was important to address was that of children’s healthcare and the technology used to treat them at the year 2000.

After numerous phone calls and faxes, I was finally granted access to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis, MN. The Public Relations contact at the hospital found a family who was willing to be photographed for the project and scheduled a time for us to meet for the shoot. That was the evening my relationship with the Burton Family began.

Arick and Austin Burton were born February 12, 1999, at only 22 weeks gestation. When I met them on July 15, 1999, Austin had already gone home to live with his parents Pam and Mike and his older brothers Kyle and Kole. Arick, however, was still dependent on a ventilator – and the hospital room was the only “home” he had ever known.

That evening of July 15, 1999, I made photographs that not only became part of my final project for MN2000; but, as Pam and Mike later told me, I also made what was the Burton family’s first “family photograph” – the first image that ever showed all six family members together at one time. And even more than that, I started a relationship with new friends.

Ever since that first evening, I have stayed friends with the Burton family. And, I have continued to make photographs.

I have been to every one of the twins’ birthday parties, several doctor visits and surgeries, and ordinary days at home. Arick and Austin are both off ventilators and are thriving!

This project documents their journey from infancy into childhood. I will continue to photograph them as our lives and friendships continue to grow.

 

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