The Chamber Center for Excellence is a separate 501c3 organization, administered by the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce. It serves as a fiscal sponsor for short-term projects by individuals or groups without a nonprofit designation to receive funds. These initiatives promote, educate or enhance the community and align with the mission of the organization. Coming to fruition this month is the latest by Susanna Tanner Photography with the “50 Over 50 Project”.
“In the spring of 2021, I decided to launch a photography project aimed to propel and empower women over the age of 50. As I enter this demographic myself, I’ve realized the declining perception of women in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s+ in that they’re no longer beautiful by society’s standards and less capable than their younger peers. Invisibility sets in, as well as transitional times that leave a woman feeling less than; empty nesting, parental caretaking, divorce, overcoming health issues, and job loss name a few of the stories and compelling reasons women have told me they seek this opportunity. On the other hand, some women are taking their careers and lives into their own hands. In doing this, they are creating new businesses or ventures, switching gears or turbo-charging the area of a career, making a difference in their community, industry or the world—and shattering misconceptions about age and gender along the way.”
– Susanna Tanner
With the goal of creating a supportive community and reminding people that beauty does not diminish with age, the effort that started with a few willing participants quickly developed into a meaningful experience.
“I’ve spent most of my life striving for the approval of others, often at my own expense,” said Darcey Meredith. “Just now, at 55, I’m starting to work on being more authentic—letting go of whom I think I’m supposed to be, or whom others expect me to be, and instead, uncovering and developing my true authenticity.”
Susanna partnered with Richmond native Kate Jetmore who collaborated on the project. Kate hosts “The Listen Podcast” and put her story-telling skills to work interviewing many of the women featured in the project. The recorded podcasts will be able to be accessed on the 50 Over 50 website with the photographs. “This allows exhibit visitors the opportunity to hear a woman’s own voice tell a piece of her story while studying her image,” Susanna said.
Dr. Lucinda Wright was initially hesitant. “You see, I do not like being photographed. However, after talking with (Susanna) about the project, I realized there was more to it than just being photographed. It was about telling my story to possibly help others.”
The exhibit tells stories of women as young as 50 years old to the oldest of 93 years of age. They all had heartwarming feedback on their experiences.
“Susanna’s gentle reminders to shut off the critique mode we were in when seeing ourselves in the mirror, allowed me truly to see myself as a confident, proud, adventurous grammy with tattoos,” explained Shelley Miller.
The portraits will be on display at Reid Health beginning August 5 and remaining through October. Those with 3–5-minute audio interviews will be accessed via a QR code. Each print will be for sale during the exhibition opening with all proceeds going toward women’s health initiatives at Reid Health.
Throughout the exhibition, individuals, families and groups of all ages are welcome to peruse the images. “I envision younger girls or women exposed to the exhibit through school trips or nonprofit groups,” Susanna said. Each one will leave with a message that resounds the significance of beauty at any age.
Norene Groth summed up the experience, “The 50 over 50 project reminds me that aging is a privilege, and with aging comes wisdom, experience, grace, and gratitude.”
Special thanks to the following:
Bill and Ruth Carter
Koechlein Family Fund
Warm Glow Candle Co.
Kate Jetmore (In-kind)
Suzanne Allain Designs (In-kind)
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