I am a portrait photographer and documentary filmmaker. My work is about authentically sharing the stories of women and their families, specifically their struggles and successes. The wisdom of women and mothers is not always valued in our culture. We are taught to ‘figure it out’, ‘stop complaining’, ‘suck it up’, ‘smile’, ‘move on’. But our stories — especially the ones of pain — have value. They should be honored, preserved, and passed on to the women who will follow in our footsteps. Our stories are our legacy.
I’ve received a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) to complete a project that was born from a very personal place: I struggled to breastfeed my son after an early cesarean section. I pumped night and day and fed him with a syringe through a nipple guard … for 3 months. It never occurred to me that breastfeeding wouldn’t happen naturally. I found myself caught totally unprepared for the challenges I faced. I had read stories of babies being born and finding the breast all by themselves. My baby was so small he couldn’t latch and I felt like a failure that I couldn’t make such a natural process work.
So this project is about documenting women’s real experiences with breastfeeding in the hope of shining a brighter light on what is normal. Sharing our stories helps us process our own experiences. I never thought my breastfeeding story would be traumatic, but it turned out to be filled with long, lonely nights and depressing, frustrating days. Sharing my story helps me see that what I managed to accomplishes is huge, and I feel proud, instead of feeling like a failure because I couldn’t figure it out easily.
Please join me on last Thursday, July 25th from 6-8pm at Ready Set GROW for the opening of Breastfeeding in Real Life: images and stories of women’s struggles and successes.
What: Breastfeeding in Real Life: photographs and stories of women’s struggles and success by Andrea Leoncavallo
Where: Ready Set GROW
5433 NE 30th Ave.
Portland, OR 97211
When: Last Thursday, July 25, 2019
light fare provided and wine available for purchase (all proceeds go to Ready Set GROW)
Contact: Andrea Leoncavallo