Women's Nests

Margaret Ann Hogue
Photographer

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Years ago as a young wife and mother I remember seeking out a place in my house or yard where I could have time to myself uninterrupted by my family and others. Other women in similar circumstances expressed the same desire. One even was seriously considering getting a small storage shed for her space. A need to have a space where we could leave our book or sewing or whatever we used while spending precious minutes for ourselves was hard to satisfy.

hogue_m.jpg (15020 bytes)This desire for a personal space led me to noticing when I went to other women's homes for their private space, which to me seemed to be their "nest." Sometimes it was a chair with a decent lamp and table to put a cup of tea and stack of reading material to be read. My grandmother's nest was a rocking chair by a dining room window with her stack of quilt pieces on the wide sill. From there she could quilt pieces while keeping an eye on pots cooking on the stove in the kitchen. She could talk to her many friends on the phone while piecing. No one moved her quilting pieces and seldom sat in that chair. It was ready whenever she had a little time to spend doing what she most enjoyed.

The idea of photographing women and their nests came to me after I realized this place is very important to the woman. It told a story of her in a way. I could see who liked to do handwork. The reader's books were piled high. Some preferred a quiet place in the yard away from the hectic scene inside. Some like to soak in a hot bubble bath while others use their bed as a nest.

I decided to use black and white film, high speed, so I could use available light most of the time. I wanted to be able to pick out of the photograph in the darkroom what I was trying to capture. I was not trying to get photos that showed these women as they appear in public, on the job or for visitors. I wanted to capture the person as she really was when she was being comfortable and relaxed and doing something or nothing if that is how she spent time for herself.

When I spoke to Mary Jo she asked if I would be willing to collaborate. I felt that would add to the Nest by having two of us with different visions and in different locations. This has added even more to creating a study of "Women's Nests."

All of the participants have been wonderful in allowing us to photograph what is a very private part of their lives. I thank them very much as without them and their willingness to open up to us the project would have never come alive.

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