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These Years Gone By…is a love story told through my grandparents letters from World War II. From these letters, artifacts and old family photos, I have woven together a narrative that tells the story of this critical time in world history and challenging time in their personal history. 

 

Letters and artifacts from the project

About the Project

These Years Gone By… is a love story told through my grandparents letters from World War II. My grandfather Kenneth Shaft was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army in World War II and on May 8, 1945 (“Victory in Europe” day) his company was 60 miles outside Berlin. 

Shortly after my grandmother’s death in 2008, my mother discovered about 300 letters that my grandparents had written to each other during World War II. They had been kept by my grandmother for over 60 years and inherited by my mother. These letters provided a new insight for my family into the lives of my grandparents during this critical time in world history. From these letters, artifacts and old family photos, I have woven together a narrative that tells the story of this challenging time in their personal history. 

At the heart of the project are my grandfathers letters that encompass the simple things: being young, insecure and in love, trying to maintain a relationship from a great distance, and being away from those that you love. These letters also contain the observations of a young man during a difficult time in our nations history. There is a confidence in my grandfather's writing voice that he was helping rid the world of evil forces. But there are times when he was unsure if what he was doing was the right thing, though he was certain that he was fighting for the right thing. 

While reading the letters that remain and looking back into the depth of family history, I started to have a different view of that history and these people became real. These letters inform my interpretation of the world and the events that shaped so many young people of my grandfather's generation. For me, it's a journey through family history and a way to clarify my experience. As you age, you learn that time and memory are not tangible, but elusive elements. As time passes, I look for something to hold on to. Family history and the artifacts left behind provide me with something tangible. 


Limited Edition SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK AND AWARDS

 

In 2018, I created a ‘limited edition’ self-published book from the project, it has been selected for the following awards annuals and photo book exhibitions:

2019 International Photography Awards (IPA) - First Place, Self-Published
2019 Prix De La Photographie Paris (PX3), Gold
2019 American Photography, AP35
2019 Photo Book Exhibition at the Month of Photography (MOPLA), Los Angeles
2018 Click! Photobook Exhibition, Horse and Buggy Press, Durham, NC


 
 
 
 

As a Phoenix photographer, I explore narrative storytelling through photographs and multi-media, usually consisting of constructed realties that cross over into implied fiction. My personal work has been an American Photography (AP28 and AP35) and Photo District News (PDN) annual award winner. My independently published photo books have been included in exhibitions around the country at museums and galleries that include: The Griffin Museum of Photography, Phoenix Art Museum. and Month of Photography Los Angeles (MOPLA).