TRAVERSE CITY – One woman’s sense of freedom at turning 50 is the theme of “Vintage 50,” a photography exhibition at Gallerie Medici from Dec. 18 through Jan. 3.
Soft black-and-white pictures, taken throughout the woman’s 50th year, include nude poses by nationally-acclaimed photographer Geoffrey Vail Brown and other portraits by the woman’s artist-photographer friend. Depicted are sensual moments of quiet reflection alongside familiar landscapes, such as area forests and beaches. The passage of time is noted in the length of her hair and change in skin tone, from winter white to beach brown. In a bit of whimsy, the subject is also photographed in a black lace dress she wore when she was 25.
“This is my project, and every pose you see is mine,” said the local resident, who prefers to remain anonymous. “I am the co-artist.”
None of the pictures include the woman’s face.
“It’s not about who I am,” she explained in her artist statement. “I am every woman, with a belly and scars and physical imperfections.”
The photos capture the spiritual reconciliation of a woman acknowledging self-worth and self-esteem issues from her earlier life through adulthood. She took comfort and inspiration in aphorisms by American poet Walt Whitman (“celebrate the body electric”), ‘60s singer-songwriter Janis Joplin (“Don’t compromise yourself; you are all you’ve got!”), and her favorite by actress Salma Hayek: “People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”
Her joy at eventual self-acceptance and the peace she finally felt at the age of 40 were the inspiration for her birthday project.
“Now, at 50, I finally feel grown up, emotionally mature, spiritually sound and physically accepting,” she said. “I believe that if we listen to our inner selves, we can grow to become not selfish but ‘self-full,’ with a kind and loving soul.”
The exhibit is meant to encourage women to embrace their bodies at any age and to inspire them to embark on similar projects that celebrate the milestones in their lives. For more information, call Gallerie Medici at 231-642-6408 or visit www.vintage50.net.