Tyler Kobe Nichols was killed in a senseless, unprovoked attack in his quiet neighbourhood in Brooklyn, NY, just days before Christmas 2020. His family was left with a terrible loss, devoid of meaning, absent of any motivation beyond a wayward glance at a stranger.
Fate would connect Spencer Ostrander with Sherma Chambers, Tyler’s mother. Following their meeting, Ostrander interviewed and set his lens on the family during their time of grief. These pictures are haunting at the same time as they are mesmerizing. Ostrander’s ability to work with light and shadow presents captivating portraits, whether of significant sites or a family still coming to grips with the loss.
Paul Auster’s words accompany these pictures. A native New Yorker with an influential body of literature, Auster’s words explore the family’s attempt to reframe and work through the turmoil they face. Where Ostrander’s lens uses light to capture the gloom of tragedy fallen over the Nichols-Chambers family, Auster’s words are the inverse: ink on bright pages, bracing through tribulations to the gleam of the family’s subsequent work in trying to spread a message of hope, and conciliation.
One of the hardest things humans face is trying to make sense of the barbarism we experience or to which we are a witness. In this sense, what is most gratifying about this book is the family themselves. A multi-generational community living under one roof; a unit united in confronting the spectre of violence that continues to rear its head in American cities and streets. A family dedicated to making sense of the loss of one of their own.
While a suspect in the case has been apprehended and awaits trial as of this writing, the family is instead working to reframe the narrative presented to them: one where victims surpass their death and become symbols to unite and benefit communities.
Author: Paul Auster (Author), Sherma Chambers (Foreword), Spencer Ostrander (Photographer)
Publisher: ZE Books
Release Date: May 20, 2022
Format/Length: Hardcover, 136 pages