So much of the change that comes with age is subtle until it isn't. Lately, I am noticing more and more the differences in my skin and wondering what that means about what is going on below the surface.
I keep hearing Phoebe Snow's lyrics from her song Either or Both of Me :
"Sometimes this face looks so funny
I hide it behind a book
But sometimes this face has so much class
That I have to sneak a second look"
This seesaw of how to view oneself is so pertinent to our aging bodies. They have done so much, can do so much even if they look mottled, saggy, baggy. Anyone who is well into their adulthood will tell you that whatever age they've reached doesn't feel the way they had imagined it would. As a friend who is about to turn 76 said the other day, "How did this happen, I was just a kid hanging around the old neighborhood?"
Exploring our individual relationship with our age trying to separate it from all the cultural baggage that we carry isn't easy. I believe art and gratitude help.
John Coplans (1920-2003) the artist, began photography at age 60, picturing his own body. Close-up, never including his face. For more than 20 years he captured his naked body forming his study of aging. His larger than life-size black-and-white images of hands or feet appear monumental. Creating from his flesh a new vision, sculptural and divorced from younger vs. older.
“My photos recall memories of mankind,” he has said.1 Here the way he contorts his body results in a nearly abstract form that emphasizes line and curves.