When I walk city streets, my eye is drawn to people who others do not see: invisible older women overlooked by the rushing crowd. By noticing the unnoticed, I identify them as worthy of note.
Sociologists study the invisibility of ageing women as a social phenomenon they call the Invisible Woman Syndrome. Being unseen implies irrelevance, insignificance and a host of other negatives.
To capture the images of these women, I disappear into the crowd. I’m not a professional photographer, but street photography with a small digital camera that with a powerful zoom or my iPhone enables my collection of characters to feature in my art.
I draw on my pool of images of the elderly to create the narrative art quilts that have become my signature. After uploading my photos onto the computer, I work with the images in Photoshop. I develop several variations of each woman and then print repeating images on fabric.
The care I devote to each woman conveys legitimacy and respect and makes the invisible not just visible, but even remarkable. The time I spend with an image allows me to develop a character and imagine her story—to get close to her.
Because the woman is anonymous, I am free to build conjecture and venture into what J.K. Rowling calls “the murky marshes of memory and thickets of wildest guesswork.” Leaving space for viewers to interpret my artwork, I lay a foundation for others to embellish and embroider for themselves the narratives I begin.