Debe Arlook —Silent Buddha
“I suppose you have received many letters from desperate mothers. Here is mine.” Written to a neurologist by my sister, 1997.
Silent Buddha exposes the hidden impact a rare, incurable brain disorder has on the relationship between a mother and son. It considers both as individual and shared experiences of life-long care. Diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) at 5 years-old, my nephew David is non-verbal, has severe autism, scoliosis and requires 24/7 care. After many conventional and holistic interventions failed to stop the seizures, my sister Lori turned to nonconventional healers, to no avail. What David sees, feels and understands will never be fully understood. Sometimes there is an other-worldly wisdom about him. While Lori sustains David’s physical body, his nature offers her a broader perspective on living a life of acceptance.
Using an unorthodox artistic interpretation, this family documentary illustrates the profound effects of David's condition. Drawing from my observations and the mystery behind David’s silence, Silent Buddha gives voice to David and bears witness to their symbiotic relationship. It is our collaboration. Through exhibitions, presentations and community outreach, our goal is to offer support and hope to families and caregivers facing long-term care hardships. By raising awareness, we hope to raise research funds to find a cure.
Debe Arlook is an award-winning, Los Angeles based fine art photographer. Her projects explore the connection between the natural world and spiritual realm through color and use of photo-based processes. The work challenges the viewer to shift one’s perception of the human experience through photography. Arlook’s work is exhibited, published and collected worldwide. She is an Advisor and Curator for Pasadena Photography Arts, and a Contributing Editor for PhotoBook Journal.