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Respecting My Elders: Age & the Creative Spirit
Photographs by Ellen Wallenstein
Sep 11—Nov 8
Opening Reception: Wed, Oct 21, 5-6:30 pm
About the Exhibit
Respecting My Elders is a selection of portraits of individuals over the age of 80 by Ellen Wallenstein. Photographed in natural light at their homes and studios, the exhibit features artists and intellectuals born at the beginning of the last century.
“Known as the ‘Greatest Generation’ and coming of age between the two World Wars, the effect of this generation’s contribution is evident in their creative work, which includes books, poems, paintings, photographs, plays and performances,” notes Wallenstein. “My photographs are meant to celebrate these individuals and to inspire admiration by future generations.”
Respecting My Elders builds upon a previous venture, Opus for Anne, in which Wallenstein documented three years of weekly visits to an elderly hospice patient who became a close friend. “After she died I felt inspired to contact others of her age whom I admired and who had influenced me greatly as I was becoming an artist,” Wallenstein comments. “I began in a ‘six-degrees-of-separation’ manner, starting with my mother and her circle, asking friends and colleagues for suggestions and introductions, as well as contacting strangers I was interested to meet. This led me to some fascinating people who in turn recommended me to their friends and colleagues. Each person I met was still actively engaged with his or her craft. As an artist I am curious about how to sustain one’s interest, talent and practice over a lifetime, especially a long one. It takes stamina, drive and a deep belief in one’s creative self. I am awed by the genius of these people.”
About the Photographer
Ellen Wallenstein is a photographer, writer and professor based in New York City. She was born and raised in Washington Heights, a fifth-generation New Yorker whose family were members of Central Synagogue. She attended NYC public schools, P.S. 187 and Hunter College High School.
Wallenstein earned a BA in Art History from SUNY Stony Brook and a MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute, where she is currently an Adjunct Full Professor. She teaches photography and book arts in the Department of Photography. She also teaches in the BFA and MPS Photography programs at the School of Visual Arts.
Ellen’s photographs are in various public and private collections and have been exhibited internationally. Her work has been nominated for the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography and the Santa Fe Prize. She is a New York Foundation for the Arts Photography Fellow, who shoots long-term documentary projects.
Respecting My Elders is a collection of portraits of well-known creative persons over the age of 80 who have contributed to the American Culture. Begun in 2008, it was published in book form in 2013 and listed on several prominent photo blogs’ “Best of the Year” lists. It has been shown in several artist book shows across the country, and presented as a slide lecture to the National Arts Club.
The book will be for sale and order at the Artist reception on October 21. It is also available online at http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/530767 and through the website www.ellenwallenstein.com.