Nancy Burson is a gifted artist photographer. In this small black and white book of photographs taken with the Diana camera (a camera about as basic and simple as any ever created) she has taken moments in time to honor the faces of children and adults whose faces and sometimes bodies are 'distorted' by genetic defects. Not unlike Diane Arbus who found beauty in beings on the edge of what we all consider normal, Burson approached this project funded by foundations dealing with craniofacial disorders with a keen, kind, compassionate eye. The results are photos, at times blurred due to the simplicity of the camera used, that were taken without prolonged set up plans: these are snapshots hurriedly taken so as not to make the subject uncomfortable.
What we see are all manner of craniofacial defects, yes, but what is far more important is that Burson lets us look at these people as people, each having an enormous sense of dignity. The tone of the photography monograph is set by the epilogue by Jeanne McDermott, a woman who gave birth to a boy named Nathaniel who has Apert's syndrome, 'a rare and random genetic disorder which affects the bones, primarily of the hands, feet, and head.' In sharing with the reader her mode of raising and loving wholly this child who grew beautiful in her eyes makes the collection of Nancy Burson's photographs a humbling and enriching experience. This little book, published by Twin Palms Publishers, is a unique and genuinely touching communication on the quality of beauty. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, December 06