Thursday, July 12, 2007

Joyce Tenneson at the Griffin Museum of Photography

My friend Bénédicte and I went to see Joyce Tenneson speak at the Griffin Museum tonight. The show is up through August 12,

Joyce kicked off the talk with a couple of Powerpoint slideshows, the first of which was a selection of images from her new book, a retrospective of four decades' worth work.

As she got up to speak at the end of the slideshows, she welled up with tears over the images from her Wise Women series featuring women over 65. The late Jessica Tandy was one of them. Joyce has always photographed from the heart, and she got to know some of these women very well in preparation of her portraits of them. She loved them and wanted to be close friends with them. She explained that she got emotional over them because it was the first time she looked at the slideshow on a big screen with music like this.

She apologized, but of course, we more than forgive her. We just love her that much more for getting emotional. Well, I'm speaking for myself at least.

Wise Women happens to be my favorite body of work by Joyce Tenneson, and I was happy that she was so attached to it. It's her least stylized body of work because she really wanted the women's characters to speak for themselves, and so there weren't any special backgrounds that may distract the viewer from the subject. Pretty young starlets will please the vast majority of the public no matter how poorly you photograph them. Being able to distill the inner beauty from an older woman is something only a master artist like Joyce can do. It's likely that a young male will look at this body of work and say that he has no interest in viewing, but young, shallow boys are irrelevant here. Wise Women will only speak to other wise women, women seeking wisdom, and maybe a few worthy wise men.

The session was then opened to Q&A. I learned the process by which she used to mount her large flower images.

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