One of the first things that struck me about the exhibit was the diversity of the people she photographed. Obviously every person in the world has a different story and different lived experiences, but it was so evident to me when I walked in the room. I found the portraits incredibly beautiful and moving.
My favorite image was of Trudy, the elderly woman with red hair wearing a fabulous aqua turtleneck. I like how she’s not looking at the camera, and the soft, very small smile on her face. Mary Beth met Trudy when she came across her house and saw her crocuses in bloom. She went back later and knocked on her door and asked if she could take her picture as part of her project. Trudy revealed that she was an artist too and was willing to be a subject. In her blog Mary Beth talked about the pictures of flowers that Trudy had painted. She told Mary Beth “I just can’t let them die.” When I read that I got little chills, it was just such a beautiful idea. Trudy is a German immigrant and she talked about what it was like to live through the war. She seems like an incredible woman and I think Mary Beth really showed that with the portrait and with the parts of their conversation that she chose to share on her blog.
Another image that struck me was the portrait of Annye, the African American woman in the yellow suit and plum hat. Mary Beth told us that Annye makes all her own clothing which I find fascinating. In the blog it says that Annye has eight children. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to eight children, I can barely take care of myself.
I guess those two images stuck with me the most because they were both of elderly women who each seem very capable and exciting despite their ages. I feel like sometimes in our society we cast aside the elderly but they have so much to say and teach us, and they’re perfectly functioning members of society. They are also women that have lived through really important historical events. The portraits and blog posts made me want to get to know the women in the pictures. I value strong female characters in my life and in the world. I think it is very important for girls to see strong, capable women of all ages and these images do that.