If you hear about a person living with a mannequin family, you’d probably think that person is crazy. But Suzanne Heintz is actually quite normal. She’s an artist, and normally, you make exceptions for the creative types.
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Suzanne is an art director at the Starz Entertainment Group in Colorado. For 14 years, she has been coming home from work to her family—her plastic husband, Chauncey, and never-aging adolescent daughter, Mary Margaret. In the past few years, she has traveled across the country and even to other parts of the world taking photographs with her synthetic loved ones as part of her art project called Life Once Removed.
Before she had her mannequin family, Suzanne would constantly be asked, “When are you getting married?” Her mother was one of the people who pressured her to settle down. She was once told my her mother, “Nobody’s perfect. If you are going to get married, you’ll just have to pick somebody.” To that, Suzanne replied, “Mom, it’s not like I can go out and buy a family and make it happen.” But it turns out she could.
One that night, 15 years ago, she walked past an outlet that had a row of mannequins on sale. It caught her attention, and she realized she could buy a family. And that is when her life with Chauncey began.
Since she couldn’t have an actual family life, she decided to photograph herself in situations experienced by regular families. She explains, “If I have to go through the motions, this is what it is going to look like,” she said. “They are mannequins. The candy-coated shell with nothing inside. We do all those family things, all the while capturing those Kodak Moments.”