Margery Schab's photographs of residents at long-term care facilities is exactly what New Yorkers need to see right now. "I/We Still Count (Voices from Nursing Homes)" is the end result of 20 years of visiting nursing homes pre-pandemic, but the project has taken on a larger and incredibly important narrative since more than 5,000 New York nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 in the past year.
It was Schab's time visiting her late husband in a nursing home that initially sparked her interest in connecting with others in nursing care. "I started this series 20 years ago, and I don't think a day goes by that I don't think about all the people I took pictures of," Schab says. "This was so enriching to my life and to just sum it up quickly, it's the 'extraordinary of the ordinary.' We've forgotten that. And these people certainly reminded me of that."
After New York nursing homes became the epicenter of the state's outbreak, Schab felt like it was time to dust off this project with some minor reworking. The interviews that complement her portraits can now be accessed through voice memos at the exhibition. Schab hopes the series will widen the perspective on people in nursing home care. "All of humanity counts, no matter how young or how old," Schab says. "The audience will be looking at them and hearing them and maybe see themselves. We all go through a process of life."
"I/We Still Count (Voices from Nursing Homes)" will be exhibited at the Art Society of Kingston (ASK), May 1–30.