Joan Lobis Brown: Women of an UNcertain age: Indomitable Baby Boomers Challenging Cultural Norms”
Viewing our exhibits is free because of the generosity of Horicon Bank.
“Women of an UNcertain age: Indomitable Baby Boomers Challenging Cultural Norms”
Photographs and Text by Joan Lobis Brown
Exhibition will be on display from April 2 – May 16, 2020
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 2, 6 – 8 pm
A curator-led tour will begin at 6:30 pm exploring the current art exhibitions.
Free admission and open to the public, meet the artist as you view her work. Cash bar and snacks available.
Artist’s Exchange: Friday, April 3, 6 – 8 pm
Free admission and exclusive for THELMA members, listen to a Q&A talk and learn about her process, inspiration, and execution of her work. Cash bar and snacks available.
How long does it take for a denied class to achieve parity? It took over 130 years after the Constitution was written for women to gain the right to vote on a national level. This year, 127 women are serving in Congress—more than any other time in our history.
There is no better moment than the present one to showcase the lives of ordinary/extraordinary baby boomer women. Baby boomer women have shown all of us how never to give up and forge ahead, how to lead inspiring lives and how to be truly free and capitalize on our talents and strengths and assume our rightful place in history.
“Women of an UNcertain Age: Indomitable Baby Boomers Challenging Cultural Norms” is a portraiture series— accompanied by text culled from interviews—that focuses on American baby boomer women of diverse races, religions, sexual identities, professions and socioeconomic backgrounds.
American baby boomer women—– women born between 1945 and 1964 were the first generation to expect that they could “have it all”: equality, family, careers, health and prosperity. Now, they face challenges brought on by the demands of growing older while continuing to enjoy those same meaningful and evolved lives.
Women have been, and still are, the targets of sexism and ageism. Older women are often invisible, remaining largely unseen by members of a youth-oriented society and underrepresented in popular culture and imagery. When they are visible, they are often and euphemistically described as being “of a certain age,” as though an acknowledgement of maturity might be taken as an
offense. Even worse, older women are sometimes thought of and depicted as crones or witches.
Since 2015, I have photographed and interviewed 39 unknown yet outstanding baby boomer women who have shattered stigma, dismantling stereotypes to become extraordinary women launching new careers, achieving physical goals, overcoming adversity and making society a better place for all of us.
I researched and networked to identify women to feature in my project who were born during this period and are living in the United States and leading inspiring lives. The women we meet in this project are strong, resilient, tenacious, courageous and unstoppable. Their stories cover a wide variety of accomplishments. They are athletes, scholars, activists, businesswomen, artists, migrants and survivors. They are role models all. These amazing women are a testament to the character, courage, vitality and spunk of American baby boomer women.
Each portrait in the series represents a collaboration between me and the particular woman being photographed. The women have been photographed in settings—whether at home or at their workplace—that are meaningful to them and convey a sense of who they are. Additionally, together we made choices about their hair, makeup, clothing and even what objects would surround them. They are not only making sure that they are seen—they have taken charge of how they will be seen.
These photographs and stories bear witness to a generation that never gave up. As a bonus, the images and stories of these ordinary/extraordinary women will serve as a blueprint for younger generations, guiding them in how to live their truest lives as well as offering them encouragement and freedom to face the unique challenges that lie ahead of them. I learned a lifetime of lessons from listening to these women and wish I’d had them as role models as a young woman.
The large collages in this exhibition are made from postcards that have been collected at previous iterations of my traveling exhibition. In effect, these collages reflect the wisdom that comes with age.
I provide postcards, with an image that I took at the January 2017 Women’s March, asking women viewers to answer to the question “What would I tell my younger self?” (please see postcard uploaded as image #18).
I would like to add postcards from women who participate at the Thelma Sadoff Center for The Arts, as well as the greater Fond du Lac area and Wisconsin in general, to the collage part of this exhibition. Yet-to-be completed postcards would be on a small table in front of existing collages and will invite viewers of this particular incarnation of the exhibition to answer the same question and impart their own wisdom.
After completing them, viewers will drop the cards into a box to be collected at the end of the exhibition. These will then become part of a new collage to be included in my next exhibition of this project. In this way, everyone who views this exhibition is invited to become a part of it as it travels and grows.
To guide viewers through the exhibition, spiral bound notebooks will contain a page featuring a thumbnail image and story for every woman in the exhibition (please see image #19).
There will also be a mirror among the images. In this way, I hope to have viewers literally see themselves among these women and, figuratively, imagine their place among them.
Also featured is what I am referring to as a networking image, showing how I came to be connected to the subjects in my portraits, underscoring my own place among them (please see image #20).
There is also the possibility of having framed images. All prints are archival pigment prints.