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Realizing his grandfather’s memory was disappearing forever, local photographer Rich Beckermeyer took action. He began regular visits to his Michigan-based relative to understand his roots. “I took the opportunity to bring my camera with me to document the digression and degeneration of his memories as I attempted to create shared memories only I would remember in the end,” says Beckermeyer.
The result was “Abuelo,” a documentary photography series about dementia. It covers six years and will be shown in an exhibit titled The Sickness at Sacramento State’s University Library Gallery. We asked Beckermeyer about the project.
What’s it really about?
The Sickness is about how one man tried to maintain his lifestyle as he lost the meaning of the objects around him through the general mental illness of dementia.
What thoughts do you hope the show evokes?
That those who come to see this exhibition will know they are not alone and there are other caregivers out there who know the isolation they are going through. I also hope that those who come will learn methods of palliative care that my family used.
Describe him fading away.
I saw him forget how to use the objects he valued most, like paintbrushes, pencils, books and razors.
The Sickness displays Feb. 2 through March 18 at the Sacramento State University Library Gallery, 6000 J St. A reception with the artist takes place Feb. 17.