Very early before work, I sat in my car for a little while instead of rushing off like I normally do. I looked around and saw a cardinal swoop down and land on the sidewalk near my car. I became hypnotized by it. I cold not remember that last time I saw a cardinal in Chicago. This struck me because it has always been a symbol of my grandma to me. She keeps a full bird feeder outside of her dining room window to attract the cardinals and deer at her home in Michigan. My Grandmother would stand at the kitchen window, doing the dishes, and looking out onto the apple orchard while birds flew in for a snack. She would always point out when a cardinal came to visit. I called my mother to tell her that I had seen a cardinal that day. She told me, "that means someone from heaven is smiling down on you". It hit me hard. Later that day I would say goodbye to my sister for the last time. She was already looking down on me.
Cardinal Direction is a series of photographic documents that explore family history, place, and identity through portraiture and landscape. These images are created using an analogue large format camera, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Rosalyn Plas (Groloeau) Born February 2, 1922. St. Jaques, Michigan. Delta County. Hiawatha Forest.
Cardinal Direction is an ode to my grandmother's family of lumberjacks, catholics, and people of the land. People who endured the harshest of winters, canned their harvests, lived with virtually no money, killed their own meat, and repaired their own machinery.
This body of work spans ten years over holidays and moments of desperately trying to squeeze in family time. I am fascinated by the Groleau family legacy and tradition and how those ideas inform my own intricacies. The idea of death an mortality are themes that have shown themselves through the development of the series. Death has always been in the back of my mind as my grandmother ages. The matriarch. She is still with us currently and I always imagined loosing her and going through that loss before anyone else I love. Instead, I lost my sister this year to addition. This work has allowed me to process through many aspects of being a member of a blended family, and female rolls within in the family structure.