The self-portraits in this series specifically deal with the concept of loss and closure, and are my way of navigating healing from the loss of a close family member, the loss of a close friend, and the split from my fiancé. This series is self-centered in that I was only concerned with photographing myself. I use multiple exposure and layering techniques to visually explore the contradictions and intersections of the self, which is usually conveyed through dark and contemplative themes. These photos serve as a sort of visual pedagogy for healing, communicating to the world the colorful array of emotions inherent to loss, the colorfully dark world that is created within your ribs once grief sets in.

Most of our concepts of loss, or the act of losing, are predicated on the notion of our own victimhood in the situation. But what happens when loss occurs and we are to blame; when we are the ones draped in pride and clothed in fault, and left empty because of it?

This blood, this numbness, this bruised skin is for the men whose honey I planted in my hips; men whose flowers I helped bloomed while my own lavender fields died; men whose nectar I harvested for other other to taste. For men who I lost, who lost me, whose potential is an untapped oil well underneath my ribs, that they may never have the chance to enjoy.

At times —just after losing a loved one and right before moving on from it— the water curls around your neck and you have to decide how you will go forward: drowning or rising above?

Sometimes when I see tulips not yet fully bloomed, I wonder if they are as terrified of blossoming as I am; if they have lost somebody and are weary of the world; if they tremble at the thought of returning their brown skin to the world and reintroducing it to glossy eyes, as I do.

All the photos are credited to Devyn Springer. 

Devyn Springer is an Atlanta-based writer, organizer, and artist who recently published Grayish-Black: Poetry from the Ribs. He is editor at and social media director at the Water Rodney Foundation.