The Picture Show: NPR


Mother in Mexico City, one year before the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He was already showing symptoms: getting things wrong, withdrawing from social activities, changes in his mood and increasing memory loss.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


Mother in Mexico City, one year before the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He was already showing symptoms: getting things wrong, withdrawing from social activities, changes in his mood and increasing memory loss.

Alicia Vera

There is a term—ambiguous loss—that is used to illustrate the indescribable situation of losing a person who remains here physically but may not be present mentally or emotionally. When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018, her diagnosis left me devastated, anxious and hopeless. How to fight the slow fading of my mother even if she remains here with us?

“Va a Llover Toda la Noche”, which translates as “It will rain all night”, is my desperate attempt to cope with his forecast. In this work, I build a bridge over his past, one that I only know through his story (and which disappears more and more every day as his illness progresses); our present, equally affected; and our future together, the contours of which change with each passing day. This project is my effort to create a dialogue about ambiguous loss, to process my own grief, and to reinterpret my relationship with my mother in a way that attempts to understand her illness.

The mother, as a child, poses for a portrait in Mexico City.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


The mother, as a child, poses for a portrait in Mexico City.

Alicia Vera


Mom and her orchids in Miami.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


Mom and her orchids in Miami.

Alicia Vera

Alzheimer’s disease is mainly characterized by memory loss and decreased cognitive function. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than non-Latino whites. The National Institute of Health estimates that Latinos with Alzheimer’s disease will increase ninefold by 2060, affecting 3.5 million people.

As my mother’s illness progressed, I began to receive text messages from my family who were concerned about her condition.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


As my mother’s illness progressed, I began to receive text messages from my family who were concerned about her condition.

Alicia Vera


Glimpses of my mother’s youth in Mexico.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


Glimpses of my mother’s youth in Mexico.

Alicia Vera

In “Va a Llover Toda la Noche”, I weave together images from my mother’s existing archive, my personal archive and messages from my family to explore the present and future that her illness steals from us. Using brain scans of Alzheimer’s patients as a starting point, I make interventions in these images that mimic my interpretation of what the disease does to my mother’s memories. This work addresses the difficult emotions of suffering a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease through the unique lens of our mother-daughter relationship with the goal of connecting my own struggles with loss and grief to the larger community of affected


Mom poses for a portrait while at a party.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


Mom poses for a portrait while at a party.

Alicia Vera


A message from my brother.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


A message from my brother.

Alicia Vera


Mom poses for a portrait in Miami.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


Mom poses for a portrait in Miami.

Alicia Vera


Emails from my mother, dated 2009-2013. One of the first signs of dementia is the loss of cognitive function that can cause older people to struggle with using technology. These days, he has forgotten how to use the computer and his cell phone gives him anxiety.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


Emails from my mother, dated 2009-2013. One of the first signs of dementia is the loss of cognitive function that can cause older people to struggle with using technology. These days, he has forgotten how to use the computer and his cell phone gives him anxiety.

Alicia Vera


The mother, surrounded by flowers, poses for a portrait in Mexico.

Alicia Vera


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Alicia Vera


The mother, surrounded by flowers, poses for a portrait in Mexico.

Alicia Vera

See more of Alicia Vera’s work on her website, AliciaVera.comand his Instagram profile, @aliciavera.

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