Wearing a shiny crimson jacket and carrying crimson lipstick that contrasts together with her strikingly stunning white hair, Colleen is prepared for the day’s journey that’s a part of a singular mother-and-son journey.
It’s a journey with two functions: to relive outdated recollections, and make new recollections whereas Colleen travels down the robust street of Alzheimer’s illness.
John, who had been dwelling in Arizona whereas working for a global journey firm, moved again to his hometown of Willmar, Minn., two years in the past to take care of his dad and mom. His father, Donald, died in November 2018. Since then he’s been centered on caring for his mom.
The household has at all times had a love for touring, and John mentioned moderately than sitting at residence along with his mom, he determined to take her on jaunts round Minnesota, together with touring to just about all the state parks.
Colleen Kellen stands close to one of many photographs in her son’s assortment at WEAC that paperwork her journey with Alzheimer illness and their journey collectively to websites all through Minnesota. A digital tour of the show is obtainable by means of October. Photograph courtesy of John Kellen
To handle the challenges of caring for a mother or father with rising dementia, John renewed an curiosity in pictures and joined the Little Crow Pictures Membership, the place he was inspired to take photographs of the issues he noticed whereas taking journeys along with his mom.
Images of wildlife, landmarks and poignant photographs of his mom are a part of Kellen’s assortment of 25 pictures on show on the Willmar Schooling and Arts Middle by means of October. Due to COVID-19, the show may be considered solely by means of a virtual tour.
The solo exhibit, referred to as “A Image is Price a Thousand Phrases — the Language of Pictures,” was made doable by means of an rising artist grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council that Kellen acquired, in collaboration with the Willmar Space Arts Council.
Whereas taking his mom on journeys round Minnesota, John Kellen captures photographs of wildlife which can be a part of his show at WEAC. Due to COVID, the show can solely be seen by means of a digital tour. Photograph courtesy of John Kellen
Whereas his mom’s capability to precise herself verbally is declining, Kellen mentioned it’s straightforward to inform when she’s “comfortable and excited” and connecting with locations, folks and recollections. It may be on one of many many journeys they take to cemeteries the place relations are buried, or being looking out for deer and geese when driving by means of state parks.
One of many photographs within the assortment reveals Colleen standing on the grave of her husband at Fort Snelling as she holds a photograph of him as a younger man in his navy uniform. There’s a photograph of mom and son standing by a float aircraft as a part of a once-in-a-lifetime, three-day journey to Isle Royale Nationwide Park in Michigan, and certainly one of Colleen holding a pleasant fish on the tip of a fishing pole.
This picture of Colleen Kellen captures her love of fishing and canines. “At this stage in her life I am dedicated to offering pretty much as good of a top quality of life as doable for Mutti whereas she continues to be in a position to get pleasure from and expertise these actions that gentle her up,” writes John Kellen in an outline of the scene he caputred. Photograph courtesy of John Kellen
The gathering consists of detailed and touching narratives that present the background for the photographs, just like the one the place Colleen, who known as “Mutti” by Kellen, is holding a lightweight diffuser whereas Kellen photographed a local Prairie Smoke flower.
The picture captures Colleen being useful, which Kellen mentioned is vital to his mom, who nonetheless needs to have the ability to contribute one thing of worth.
Being outdoor and watching nature is a ardour that mom and son share. Gorgeous photographs of waterfowl, water, rocks and prairie flowers have been chosen as a result of they’ve some present significance for his mom that brings her pleasure, Kellen mentioned.
Colleen Kellen, holding a lightweight reflector, serves as a pictures assistant for her son, John Kellen, throughout certainly one of their many journeys across the state. Photograph courtesy of John Kellen
A photograph of a cardinal has a particular which means as a result of Donald Kellen labored for a few years as a counselor within the Willmar Faculty District — residence of the Cardinals.
A photograph of a goldfinch is included regardless that Colleen is not in a position to say the identify however is ready to say “yellow one,” mentioned Kellen, who mourns his mom’s lack of language however tries to “not deal with what’s lacking however on what she nonetheless has.”
Kellen mentioned he’s decided to offer his mom quality-of-life experiences “so long as I’m in a position to do it.”
“I see it as a present,” Kellen mentioned of being his mom’s caretaker and journey companion. “But it surely’s definitely not for the faint of coronary heart.”
Technically and artistically the photographs of his mom are usually not his greatest, Kellen mentioned. However they’re an vital a part of the story he’s telling within the exhibit concerning the worth of spending time — and being within the second — with folks you’re keen on.
“It’s the story of mother,” he mentioned.
To expertise John Kellen’s digital tour of his solo pictures present, “A Image is Price a Thousand Phrases — The Language of Pictures” go to the Willmar Space Arts Council’s webpage at www.willmarareaartscouncil.org and click on on the “gallery” heading. The tour will probably be accessible by means of October.