Annabel Clark – Carmen & Lupita
When doctors realized that they could not separate Carmen and Lupita Andrade, conjoined twins, their mother, Norma, was devastated. She had traveled to the United States from their home in Veracruz, Mexico, specifically to save her daughters, then 2, from a lifetime of disability and ridicule.
Years later, when Lupita and Carmen were old enough to understand that they had been brought to the United States to be separated, they were stunned.
“Mommy, why would you want to cut us in half?” they repeatedly asked.
My camera gives me courage. It allows me to look at things that scare me, to speak to strangers who don’t share my language and to connect with people whose daily experiences are the opposite of my own. It guides me through difficult times in my own life and reveals the challenges that face others each day. My camera opens the door to people’s homes and it speaks on my behalf: I am here to tell your story.
I first photographed 11-year-old conjoined twins Carmen and Lupita Andrade in 2008. Born in Veracruz, Mexico, they came to the United States on a medical visa at age two with their parents and older sister Abigail. They met with surgeons about the possibility of a separation but they were found to share too many vital organs and their lower spine, making surgery impossible without sacrificing one or both of the girls. Despite the setback, Carmen and Lupita have spent the last 9 years growing and thriving with the support of neighbors and members of their school and local Connecticut community. Years of physical therapy have given them the ability to live active lives, in which they run, jump, dance, play the piano and act in school plays with their friends and classmates. With humor and charm, Carmen and Lupita challenge me and anyone who sees them to redefine “normal” and leave pity at the door.
More images and other projects on Annabel Clark’s website and her beautiful blog. Annabel Clark was born in Topanga Canyon, California in 1981. She received her B.F.A. in Photography from Parsons School of Design in 2003. During her final term at Parsons, she photographed her mother, the late actress Lynn Redgrave, during her treatment and initial recovery from breast cancer. In 2004, the project was published as a six-page spread in the New York Times Magazine and then as the book Journal: A Mother and Daughter’s Recovery from Breast Cancer by Umbrage Editions. Her work has been exhibited at the Minnesota Center for Photography, Michael Mazzeo Gallery and the Southeast Museum of Photography as well as at hospitals and medical schools across the country. Her editorial work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Observer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Redbook and Proto Magazine. She also teaches photography at The Creative Center, a nonprofit organization that provides free art workshops to people living with cancer and other chronic illnesses.