To say one is “feeling blue” is a common way of expressing sadness. Fine art photographer Heather Evans Smith leans into this colloquial phrase in her photo series titled Blue to convey her experiences with depression as a woman in her 40s. The project also shows how this mental illness is pervasive at any age.
As its title suggests, the photographs are united by a strikingly blue color palette. From the clothes that the models wear to their indoor and outdoor settings to the objects that they come into contact with, everything is tinted in a cerulean shade. This makes it feel like the entire world that these figures occupy is steeped in melancholy. “Some say my dad's death was the spark that ignited my depression, but this feeling has been brewing for a while,” Smith tells My Modern Met. “I started to notice a sadness creep in a few years into my 40s. I searched ‘depression in women' and stumbled across articles stating women are the most depressed at age 44. I was at that very moment 44.”
These photographs find ways to keep the faces of the models anonymous—oftentimes resorting to hiding their heads in some way—which in turn makes these figures symbolic of depression itself. “Loss during this time in a woman’s life can weigh heavily,” Smith continues. “Children are getting older and need the comfort of a parent less; the health of one’s own parent(s) is starting to fail, and hormonal shifts begin.”
These women are alone in their azure environments, interacting with objects that are broken or misplaced.”Using the color blue, which for hundreds of years has been associated with melancholy and sadness-these images evoke this period in my life and how it affects those around me,” Smith adds. “A mid-point, as I am stripping down, taking stock, and finding a new place amongst the loss.”