EXPORTED: Katy Lester

We first met Katy Lester after her graduation from the University of Washington’s Photography program last year. We were immediately taken by her work, her energy, and her engagement with the arts community. Today she is sharing a very tender and heart-felt EXPORTED from her recent trip to Ireland. Enjoy, and visit her website to see more work here: http://www.katyvlester.com/

Katy Lester: “I’ve always felt very fortunate to be so close to my family. While my dad comes from a small family of just my Grandma, his sister, and himself, my mother is the oldest of six children (most of which still live in Southern California where I grew up) and since I can remember I’ve considered several of her siblings to be some of my best friends. There is so much about this that I am grateful for – through the different people and endlessly changing dynamics, it’s taught me how to communicate appropriately, how to be responsible for myself and others, and how to love people in different ways. However, being so close with some people inevitably means you’re more distant from others, and in a familial relationship this can be especially difficult. While I often find myself incredibly, inexplicably synced up with the people closest to me, I’ve also found that there are awkward and unwanted distances, silences, and misunderstandings that are nearly impossible to resolve or avoid because of fundamental differences in who we have become as people.


My family’s recent trip to Ireland was bittersweet in so many ways. The purpose of the trip initially served to celebrate my mother’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, but was very much influenced by the heartbreaking fact that my Grandad is terminally ill. As one might imagine, it’s not easy to get my grandparents, their six children, and each person’s spouse and kids all in once place at the same time – but we managed to get everyone (21 people) over to Ireland for a two and a half week celebration together. I think for many of us the trip was a stark realization that this could be our final moments and memories with my Grandad, as some members of my family only see him every once a year, and we’re all together so sparsely. While for several of us, including myself, this realization is a constant reminder not to be withholding of my feelings and thoughts; but, for others this seemed like too difficult a task, and remained more of a reason to protect their hearts and guard their immediate families.


To me, the images I produced on this trip reflect the intimacy I have and treasure with  some family members, the intimacy I try to have with others, and trying to absolve my love, discomfort, sadness, confusion, and the distance between where the two meet.”

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