Forty Year Photo Project

1981, Cincinnati

1981, Cincinnati

1999, Brookline, MA

1999, Brookline, MA

This powerful photo series by Nicholas Nixon depicts four sisters over the course of forty years. As Susan Minot writes so eloquently in this NY Times article:

Throughout this series, we watch these women age, undergoing life’s most humbling experience. While many of us can, when pressed, name things we are grateful to Time for bestowing upon us, the lines bracketing our mouths and the loosening of our skin are not among them. So while a part of the spirit sinks at the slow appearance of these women’s jowls, another part is lifted: They are not undone by it. We detect more sorrow, perhaps, in the eyes, more weight in the once-fresh brows. But the more we study the images, the more we see that aging does not define these women. Even as the images tell us, in no uncertain terms, that this is what it looks like to grow old, this is the irrefutable truth, we also learn: This is what endurance looks like.

How often do we start a project and see it veer off into a place we least expected? Even though we don’t know these women, we can find our own story in this photo series.

The same thing happens when we complete our own ‘project’. Whether it’s a drawing a day, a month of writing, or a year of piano playing. In the end it will be about much more than ‘practice’. There will be something unexpected. An understanding, a resolution, or maybe even a revelation.

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