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2021 Bob and Diane Fund Grant

Posted on December 15, 2021 - By Gina Martin
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2021 Bob and Diane Fund Grant
2021 Bob and Diane Fund Grant

2021 Grantee: Cheryle St. Onge

Cheryle St. Onge's project, "Calling the Birds Home" is a beautiful tribute to her mother who recently passed away from vascular dementia. The mother and daughter collaboration is a poetic and touching portrayal of one living with dementia. Cheryle's ability to show us beauty, humor and love during a time that can be dark, sad and painful is why the Bob and Diane Fund is honored to have Cheryle St. Onge as our 2021 Grantee.

- Gina Martin, founder, The Bob and Diane Fund

Cheryle St. Onge: Calling the Birds Home
Calling the Birds Home is a photographic exchange of the energy of life—the give and take of the familial between mother and daughter who have lived side by side on the same New Hampshire farm for decades. Our love was mutual and constant. In 2015 my mother developed vascular dementia, and with that began the loss of her emotions and her memory and the relationship of mother and daughter as we have known it for nearly 60 years. In my mother's earlier life, she was a painter and then in the final decades she began to carve birds. A carving would begin with her vast knowledge of birds, her research and then whittling away at chunks of wood. My mother would eventually offer up an exquisite painted chickadee or barred owl, life-size and life-like. I began to photograph her with any camera in reach—an iPhone or an 8x10 view camera—as a distraction from watching her fade away, as a counterbalance to conversation with her about death, as a means to capture the ephemeral nature of the moment and of life. I needed happiness and light, and to share the images with others I love.

Since her death I have come to so better understand just how much of a collaboration this work was. Just how much she suggested, aided and just every damn day was enthusiastically willing to spend time with me and to make pictures together. I continue to be devastated by her absence but the profound loss is because of our love of one another.

I honor the mindset of both of my parents by, on a daily basis reminding myself that like me, they too would want only for their child to move on in life and thrive. I am not thriving but I am growing bit by bit spiritually and emotionally.


Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund


Cheryle St. Onge
Cheryle St. Onge was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. She grew up on college campuses as the the only child of a Physics professor and a painter. She received an M.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, Massachusetts.

St. Onge's work focus on the the crossover of art and science and photography's abilty to distill our sense of time and curiosity. She makes pictures predominantly with an 8 x 10 view camera and considers her work a collaborative process.

Her photographs have been widely exhibited, most notably at London's National Portrait Gallery, Princeton University, Griffin Museum, University of Rhode Island, Massachusetts College of Art, Rick Wester Fine Arts, and with the American Institute of Architects traveling exhibition. She has received numerous awards and residences, among them a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Critical Mass Finalist Exhibition Award, Polaroid Materials Artist Support Grant, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Graduate Fellowship, and was named one of the ‘Top 50 Photographers' in the country by Time Magazine.

Her photographs are in many private and public collections, including the the University of New Mexico Art Museum, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Cassilhaus Collection, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Her work has been widely published, including features in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Photograph Magazine, Vice, Time Magazine, Juxtapoz Magazine, Time Magazine, The Guardian, and Oxford American.

She been on the faculty at Phillips Exeter Academy, Clark University, Maine College of Art, and the University of New Hampshire. Ms. St. Onge created and taught the University of New Hampshires's Art and Art History Dept's first online curriculum beginning in 2011. She divides her time between Durham, New Hampshire and coastal Maine.

Cheryle St. Onge's Website
Cheryle St. Onge on Instagram


Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund



Cheryle St. Onge

© Cheryle St. Onge, Bob & Diane Fund


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