Over 18, Over 80
The Generations Project
Three stages of life are evident in the faces of the women depicted in these triptychs: grandmother, mother and granddaughter. The grandmothers have passed their eightieth birthday and some, their ninetieth. The granddaughters have passed their eighteenth birthday. The mothers fall somewhere in between. It is within these age constraints that these twenty-one groups of women were photographed.

In approaching the "Generations Project", I was drawn by several interlocking themes: the role of the grandmother within the family framework, the responsibilities of one generation to the other, the genetic traits carried or lost, and the mysteries of the aging process.

A grandmother's love is unconditional, uncomplicated and sincere. Her wisdom, experience and maturity add stability to the family. After her 80th year, she enters a period of transition during which her daughter begins to assume her former responsibilities. Her daughter is or may soon become a grandmother herself.

The granddaughters in these images have passed their 18th birthday, some recently, others several years ago. Some are already parents of young children. Others are students, wives, workers, or all of the above.

Caught in the middle between the two outer generations is the mother who stands strong as she shelters both.

This project is not about the individual, but about the person in context with those to whom she belongs. It is about connectedness, cooperation, participation, relatedness, genealogy, family history and motherhood.

For these photographs I intentionally used a detached approach. The subjects were isolated from any recognizable background to draw attention to their faces and not to their surroundings or clothing. These pictures are not intended to be beauty portraits. All these women were asked to be unsmiling so that viewers could study them without prejudice and without the soft lighting, warm smiles and feminine poses typically used for portraits of women in our beauty-obsessed culture.

We age. We change. We transform. When we look at these photographs we see how we were, how we are, and how we will become. This is the beginning of an understanding of the aging process and of the truth that must be affirmed: to become old is not to be ignored or unloved. It is part of human evolution. It is part of the journey that shapes our lives, one that we all will take.

 
 

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