Here's my first documentary project. I didn't in all of these pictures because of the nature of the project I had to be more selective. But these are my favorites off my contact sheet. The writing is meant to supplement it, not make it what it is.
I hope you enjoy.
Will and Jackie Carpenter are raising their daughter Gracie in an old house, made new and customized with their combined personalities, a home at 1122 3rd street by family video in Marion, IN. Three years ago when the couple moved to Marion, they found the old house, in need of serious work and remodeling. The floorboards were old, the walls were strange colors, remnants from the seventies, but Will and Jackie caught the vision of this house becoming their home.
Transformed in time by work of their hands and the art that covered the walls, they combined efforts to fix it up and bring out the old character of the house and make it their own space. They saw a place to raise a family, to live and to cook. To extend their hospitality to the college students they would work with at Indiana Wesleyan.
This home welcomes, has welcomed, me. I’ve watched baby Grace grow up here, from Jackie’s pregnancy to a year and a half old. The house is always littered with crafts and toys; it adjusts well to baby life. This home raises a family. They welcome others to share in the joys and innocence of childhood. I remember my home when I was a child. Toys scattered on the floor, laundry baskets on Mondays, baby utensils and special chairs for mealtimes. Earliest and purest memories happen in your baby home. Long days with mom, play time and craft time. Memories flood back to me and make me remember my earliest years in my baby home.
Today, as I walk toward their home, the neighborhood is crisp with the change of season, trees are showing their colors, the cobblestone street holds puddles of reflective rainwater. As I approach the home, I notice the generosity of growth this neighborhood enjoyed in the summer, sprouts of grass reach out between the curbs and sidewalks, squirrels chase each other around the trunks of trees, busy ants looks anxiously for food. Neighborhood kids shout at each other across the street, their bikes cast to the side of the lawn, forgotten for other more interesting toys. It’s Saturday and this neighborhood knows it.
The stone steps are cracked and littered with leaves and sticks. The porch swing moves gently in the breeze. Their dirty “welcome” mat shows that this doorway has welcomed many. The front door hangs slightly open but I pull on the doorbell anyway, just to hear Gracie’s excited squeal at the prospect of visitors. Jackie swings open the screen door and Gracie is revealed, standing and walking around all on her own now, her shy and excited smile welcomes me and I can’t help but smile myself.
In the huge foyer, light streams through old windowpanes, as I step the floorboards give to my weight and softly complain. Grace’s baby talk now combines with the kids shouting outside and it’s easy to imagine Gracie outgrowing the constraints of infancy in the home with mom for the exciting and imaginative time of young childhood and playing outside.
The toys littered on the floor are a trail of Grace’s day’s travels. She changes her mind about the activity of choice as soon as one has been brought out and set up for her. In her baby talk she communicates to (well-versed in baby talk) Jackie. Giggles intermixed with the percussive sounds of toys falling or crashing together. Crayons make it to the floor with tick-tick sounds, leaving small marks of tickle-me-pink and robins egg blue on the newly finished wood floor. This home is a home of artists; the old styles made new and brought to life by Will’s beautiful paintings, Jackie’s warm hospitality and home cooking, and broken in by Gracie’s baby mess.
All images are © Kirsten Tornes Photography
Please don't steal.