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
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.