CIG HARVEY DIDN’T KNOW that her new
series was about the serious car crash she
survived in August 2015 until she showed
the photographs to a friend. “He said, ‘The
accident is literally all over these,” she recalls.
Harvey was psychologically scarred, but
rarely ever talked about it. “We’re often the
last ones to know what our work is about,”
she muses. The fact that the series was born
of trauma was no surprise to Harvey, however.
“Whenever something massive happens in
my life, I make pictures as a way to respond to
it,” she says. “I’m the most productive when
something derails me, or I don’t understand,
or [something] floors me. It could be an
amazing thing or it could be a terrible thing.
I use art as a way to slow the world down and
better understand it.”
The crash, which she says could easily
have left her daughter without a mother, made
clear how Harvey’s life has shifted since she
gave birth to Scout, who is now 5. “The world
became instantly more beautiful, and instantly
more terrifying,” she says of becoming a
mother. Her mortality came into sharp focus.
“Things can change on a dime, and you need
to be paying attention.” Her work changed as
a result. “It became more beautiful, but with
an element of danger,” she says. “What I’m
seeking is something that makes me gasp.”
Harvey titled the series “You An Orchestra
You A Bomb” after a conversation she had at
a dinner party. “Everyone in the room was
Through Mother’s Eyes
Cig Harvey uses photography to understand the beauty and anxiety of motherhood. BY BRIENNE WALSH
TOP AND ABOVE: Cig Harvey’s new body of work, “You An Orchestra You A Bomb,” reflects the ways her life changed after a serious car crash, and after becoming a mother.
“Whenever something massive happens in my life, I make pictures as a way to respond to it,” she says. But she didn’t know at first what the images meant. “We’re often
the last ones to know what our work is about,” she admits.