Kansas City fell in love with photographer Deanna Dikeman’s “Leaving and Waving” series of family portraits almost 30 years ago, when she began showing them in local galleries and competitions. In 2002, an image from the series received major exposure when it was featured on a Block Artspace Project Wall. Works from the series have since appeared in exhibits across the country and in Europe. The Dutch paper “De Volkskrant” did a special feature on the images in 2012.
In March, “The New Yorker” featured 21 images from Dikeman’s “Leaving and Waving” series on its Photo Booth page, with a compelling essay by Eren Orbey calling the series “a deft and affecting chronology.”
In coming weeks, Dikeman’s tender renditions of her mother and father waving goodbye outside their Iowa home stand to further broaden their reach. In February, Dikeman learned that her “Leaving and Waving” series made the shortlist for the annual MACK First Book Award, founded in 2012 by the global publisher MACK to support emerging and unpublished photographers.
Dikeman began taking the “Leaving and Waving” photographs in 1991, capturing her parents waving goodbye following their daughter’s regular visits. “I never set out to make this series,” the artist has said. “I just took these photographs as a way to deal with the sadness of leaving. It gradually turned into our goodbye ritual.”
Dikeman continued the project for 27 years. As the years go on, we watch as her parents become older and frailer. The series ends with a shot of the empty driveway of their Sioux City home after both mother and father had passed away. “For the first time in my life, no one was waving back at me,” she reflected.
“Leaving and Waving” is part of a larger body of work called “Relative Moments” chronicling the lives of Dikeman’s parents and other relatives. The importance of family is also an underlying theme of the artist’s more recent “Sprinklers, Birdbaths and Puddles” series (reproduced in KC Studio’s September/October 2018 Artist Pages), inspired by her father’s care of his birdbath and his efforts to instill that same sense of responsibility in his daughter.
The 2020 MACK First Book Award winner will be announced in mid-May, and the works will be published as a photo book by MACK.