Back-to-school days always take me back to my own childhood. Because I live in my hometown, the heat, the smells, and the increasing bustle inside this college town remain the same. The nervousness and anticipation I once felt about who my teacher might be or who would be on the class roster are now thankfully a distant memory. My children are now pacing the floors.
During this back-to-school era, I have been thinking about what else my children have inherited from me. Fortunately, two guides have helped me think more deeply about this question of nature and nurture.
Over the weekend, I met Rod Fincannon who is a photographer and teaches at East Carolina University. In a recent exhibit, Rod focused on issues of identity by taking iconic family photos and then photographing himself in the same manner as the photographs portrayed his mother, grandfather and other family members. See the two pictures above. Rod’s grandfather is on the left. Rod is on the right.
Rosanne Cash has put out a memoir, Composed, about what it has been like to be the daughter of musicians Johnny and June Carter Cash. Rosanne writes about her journey to discover the differences between what has been unusual versus universal about her own life and how she has witnessed her family ties in her own everyday life.
Fincannon and Cash think, photograph, and write about how the nature and nurture of our family members can make our experience of time a constant. Both artists reflect upon how their identities have been shaped by their own particular family trees.
Whether you are going back to school or not, now is a good time to think about how your identity has been shaped by next of kin. Fincannon and Cash provide intriguing examples for how to begin.