Trained as a journalist, Joe Wallace has been a portrait photographer and storyteller for twenty years. Like many, Joe has a deeply personal connection with dementia. His maternal grandfather and hero, Joe Jenkins, had Alzheimer’s. His maternal grandmother Elizabeth Ponder (Bebe) had vascular dementia. And in recent years, his mother Barbara (seen here together) has begun her journey with the disease.
Joe was frustrated by the common, one-dimensional narrative of dementia—futility, despair, and loss. These are real and important elements of the dementia journey, but by focusing only on the narrowest of views, do very little to change the stigma of those living with the disease. In many ways, showing the stereotypical perspectives only makes it easier to continue ignoring the burgeoning health crisis and the individuals themselves.
Joe feels strongly that to give the audience courage to act in ways large and small, you must to show the whole story. The artist must not be afraid to show not only the fear, loss and despair, but also the love, connection, dignity, and powerful humanity that always remain—in the subjects, in the care-partners, and in the families and communities. That is the only path to evolve the narrative and have a positive social change.