Made of Gray

Photography Beyond SN

One Day

Photography Beyond SNHolly D. GrayComment
Kendall, Age 8, Collected 11.29.16

Kendall, Age 8, Collected 11.29.16

I write letters, rally, protest and meet with those that make decisions about our daughter's care on a local, state and federal level. For me though, my new project, One Day, is my brand of advocacy. Looking at details differently, I love to bring a narrative to individuals in a unique way.

When Caleigh was born prematurely with the rare birth defect, Gastroschisis, my outlook on life shifted dramatically. I became more aware of everyone around me. The naive bubble was gone. My creative process stalled for many years as I tried to comprehend our new life with a medically fragile child. The barrage of diagnoses and surgeries didnโ€™t quit when we rolled out of the hospital and itโ€™s still an adjustment to this day. Finding time and energy to feed my needs was and is a huge challenge.

In 2015, I started to save and collect the massive amounts of plastic medical waste that we had been recycling and discarding. I knew that this waste was important to me, but back then I didn't know why. The shear amount of it interested me.

When I started my graduate degree last year, I was able to work through the process of collecting with my professors and other important artists in my field. With my first year of graduate work complete, a refreshing research trip to Italy and two years of collecting; I have clarity on the waste material and the importance that this project will have in large numbers.

Here's where you come in!

Volunteers are asked to collect ALL waste material used in the care of their medically fragile family member(s) during a 24-hour period. One Day. This could include recyclable material, packaging, feeding supplies, and medications. As well as needles, vials, port or central line care, suction, and trach supplies. Diapers, pull-ups and wipes are excluded.

No amount of material is too small or great and this is definitely not a competition. As a narrative, I know how surprised I was by how much we discard each day.

At this time, Iโ€™m asking that medically fragile kids, 21 and under, participate. At a later date, I will open this request to adults.


The underlying purpose for this very important and ongoing project is to give a voice and a visibility to an often overlooked minority. With ideas of consumption, identity and both personal and political advocacy; I envision an increased awareness for our community.

By participating you will receive a digital file of your One Day project to share throughout social media, letters to your representatives and others. Basically, whatever you feel like! You will also receive 1 - 8x8 artist proof of your collection.

Writing and putting things out into the world has power. I have lofty goals that include hundreds of participants from all over the world and I believe that we will get there. I need your help, please share with your friends, FB groups and family to get the word out!

Questions? Email me @

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Changing Directions

Photography Beyond SNHolly D. GrayComment

The past year has been full of change for our family. Caleigh's long surgery and stay in Boston is notably the biggest upheaval, but there have been many more. Change has been everywhere. That's life, right? If we aren't changing we aren't growing. 

Changing Directions via Castle Island Boston

During 2015, I had been creating my own personal art on the side, showing in galleries and feeling good about where I was headed. Last November when I resigned from my nonprofit position, there was a period of time that left me yearning to find my path. I had extra free time that I felt confused to fill. I needed the down time emotionally, but there was something that was missing.

Once I discovered that it was the making and creating that I had lost, I jumped back in. When there wasn't a paid job to fill the quiet spaces, I looked towards art and continuing my education. 

I'll save you the long version of this dream... I've always wanted my Master of Fine Arts and to teach at the university level. That was the plan. Caleigh's birth and fragility slowed and fogged that dream. There were moments that I thought it wouldn't happen. 2016 showed up, timing was right and free, and I was fully supported at home with Caleigh's care to pursue this little goal of mine.  

Changing Directions via Castle Island Boston

After months of work, applications, meetings and portfolio reviews, everything was submitted to several graduate programs in the area. I waited a month, had further interviews and eventually chose UTA and their Intermedia Studio program. They were able to offer me funding as well as a Graduate Teaching Assistantship and a studio space. The acceptance process is very rigorous and I'm happy that my work and potential was what they were looking for in a candidate. 

Flash forward an entire summer that frankly wiped my slate clean. I haven't created anything with my hands since we left and the photography that I shot still lives on my hard drive. I pulled these from our visit to Castle Island in Boston. The fog was amazing that evening. Even editing these images for this post gets me excited about the next three years. 

At home things are much less supported than they were when I was applying back in January. Of course, Eric is a rockstar dad that pulls his weight in an incredible way. Dad's need time for themselves too though. Since we've been home, we've been working on finding the right nurse or caregiver for Caleigh. Another big change. Today I interviewed nurse #7 since we've been home. She's coming back on Monday and I really do hope that she works out. We have a new respite caregiver that should help with date nights and mandatory school outings throughout the coming semester. 

Changing Directions via Castle Island Boston

Next week is the start of classes and finding a routine for all of us. With most of my coursework being research based and independent studio time; we should find time for therapies, homeschool and down time without a hitch.  Everything else may just have to wait. 

Things are falling into place, but they are still in that "what was I thinking" stage. I literally have a moment of pure excitement followed by extreme mom guilt and I haven't even started yet. It'll be an interesting transition, but I'm excited to see where we are all headed. 

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