Theresa Byrnes is an artist and a performer. She is also one of the most extraordinary and inspiring individuals I’ve ever known as she never allows the fact that she is in a wheelchair to inhibit her zest for life or passion for creating art. And at the age of forty-four, she just became a mother for the first time.
We originally met eighteen years ago when I took the portraits for her first ever magazine article in Who Weekly that detailed her battle with Friedreich’s ataxia which had put her in a wheelchair in her late teens. I admired her drive and determination and we subsequently became friends after the shoot.
She moved from Sydney to NYC about twelve years ago and when I relocated here eight years ago we picked up our friendship as if no time had passed at all. I became one of the people she’d call to get involved when she created her semi regular performance pieces such as ‘CLOTHED’ and ‘Measure Of Man’ which I documented and can be seen in this blog.
Sometime last summer Theresa sent me a message asking me to visit as she had some news to impart. I was surprised when she told me that she was pregnant. Having raised my daughter as a single parent for ten out of twenty years, I know too well the potential issues and difficulties involved in raising a child and so immediately volunteered to help in any way I could.
We agreed to collaborate on a series of pictures where I would document the pregnancy on a semi weekly basis and the pictures in this blog are the result of that collaboration.
I photographed Theresa eighteen times in her gallery and at home between 20th September and 17th February, when I took the first pictures of her son Sparrow Joe Louis. I have only posted the gallery pictures here as I feel they are stronger in this context.
This is an excellent article in a recent issue of Villager about Theresa and her views on becoming a mother at this stage in her life. For inspiration and perspective on life, it’s definitely worth taking the five minutes required to read it. Theresa is currently having a massive art sale and I suggest that if you’re in NYC you make your way down to her East Village gallery at 616 East 9th St between Avenues B & C on Saturdays and Sundays and if you’re not here in the city, then go online to her website or the online catalogue and buy something there.