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JASMINE MAKI: Abandoned house photography captures what's left, tells a new story

As I stepped into the abandoned house, an eerie feeling came over me. Three little windows on the front door were cracked and broken, the ceiling was in pieces on the floor and the only light shone through cracks in the roof. Walking through each...

Jasmine Maki

As I stepped into the abandoned house, an eerie feeling came over me.

Three little windows on the front door were cracked and broken, the ceiling was in pieces on the floor and the only light shone through cracks in the roof.

Walking through each room, I imagined how it might have been before the storm of life destroyed it.

In the kitchen, I pictured happy, young newlyweds dancing to the radio, while a batch of cookies baked in the little oven.

In an upstairs bedroom, where an old, broken music box lay on the floor, I imagined a little girl dancing on her toes, dreaming of becoming a ballerina. I heard the music playing in the background, and the slight breeze from the broken window brought chills to my skin.

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In another room, I again envisioned the wife, who was now a mother. She was rummaging through her closet full of beautiful dresses, in search of the perfect one to wear to her daughter's Christmas dance recital.

Suddenly, a life I'd never known began to flash before my eyes.

I saw this family and each of their lives being torn apart at the seams. I imagined their lives slowly decaying like this abandoned house. But as I looked at the floor littered with vintage dresses, empty and unsigned Christmas cards, broken belongings and pieces of the decaying house, I couldn't begin to imagine what had gone wrong, why they had left this house and their personal belongings.

I slipped on Emma Katka's lace vintage dress and felt transported back in time. Suddenly, I was the mother in the house.

Following Katka's instructions, I grabbed the broken mirror and held it up. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I was overcome by feelings of sadness, abandonment, helplessness and heartbreak.

I imagined the once happy family losing a child and never recovering from the heartbreak. I pictured the couple blaming each other for the loss of their son, which led to anger, resentment, hatred and violence.

I pictured the young child with tears rolling down her cheeks as she watched her parents scream and fight. She had lost her only brother and now she was losing her parents, her house and any chance of happiness.

In the kitchen, Katka asked me to sit on the floor, look away from the camera and hold my arms tightly against my body. I no longer cared about getting my hands dirty or cutting myself on glass from a broken mirror.

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All I cared about was helping her create something, something that would impact its viewer. Something that, like Katka said in our May interview, would make people feel something.

Because sitting in the rubble tightly hugging myself, I felt it. Looking at the photographs, I barely recognize myself. Instead, I see a woman full of sadness and confusion.

And that's the power of art.

We may never know what happened in the now abandoned house, we may never know what happened to the family, but through art we can capture what is left and tell our own story.

Maki covers arts and entertainment and life and style. Call her at (701) 780-1122, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1122 or send email to jmaki@gfherald.com .

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