My next two participants in my women portrait series are both strong women and passionate about their work. They’re both in caring professions but that care involves different species. One works with small animals, our cat and dog family members, while the other is focused on our children, testing them for various conditions that can affect their learning and behavior.
Full disclosure. I take my pets to Dr. Rennie Church so I know her skill, compassion, and love of animals personally. I first was recommended to her when my dog, Isabelle, started developing symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome and needed an ultrasound which my vet at the time didn’t have. Beyond doing the scan, she became so invested in Isabelle’s unusual case that I decided to switch to her permanently for Isabelle’s care, as well as my two cats. And I’ve never regretted it. She always has the time to answer questions and go the extra mile, even on her off days.
In my portrait of her, she’s examining my cat Chaplin’s teeth that had a build up of tarter during that visit. Chaplin was an old gal, perhaps 16 or 17 at that visit. She was still perking along, but Rennie wasn’t keen on doing a full dental on her with her advanced age. However, some manual dexterity to get rid of some obvious hunks of tarter would help to keep her teeth and mouth healthier as time went on. In her portrait, Rennie bends over Chaplin, intent on getting some of that nastiness out of her mouth, even as Chaplin wasn’t very happy with it, digging in her back feet to resist.
I don’t have any children so I have no personal experience with Aloha Ramey, a psychologist here in Paducah. I met her through friends and a group we both belong to on Facebook. She struck me as both serious about her work but also endeared me with her crazy and wry sense of humor. She also brings a different perspective to our community, growing up in Venezuela, with family still residing there in all the chaos. Her journey here to the US was due to her choice of graduate programs in psychology at Murray State after receiving an undergraduate degree in clinical psychology from Universidad Rafael Urdaneta in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Murray State couldn’t have been more different than Venezuela and probably not what she’d heard about the United States. We’re the lucky ones for her choosing to stay here.
I met Aloha at her office not really knowing how I wanted to capture her in her work environment. With privacy issues it’s not possible to watch her in action testing kids, so we did the next best thing. She set up one of her tests in front of me at a little table in her testing room. It was a small, windowless, nondescript place with a filing cabinet, the table and two chairs, and a few small paintings Aloha had made. As I sat opposite her and we talked about her work testing kids for such things as ADHD and autism, I took pictures of Aloha to capture the vantage point and feeling of those who would be actually taking the test.
If I were a kid sitting opposite her playing with those blocks I’m pretty sure I’d be at ease with her.
Next up: a chef and a seamstress!!