In the Thick of Life at 70
Photographs and Interviews by Jessica Chornesky
"Elders are not a separate
species," says photographer Jessica Chornesky.
"I want to reframe how older women are perceived."
Chornesky, 40, brings that idea vividly to life in
her new multimedia project "70 Up." Chornesky,
whose work has appeared in
Time, the New
York Times, Elle, and Rolling Stone,
has interviewed and photographed more than two dozen
women over 70 years old to spotlight their productivity
and contributions. (Four appear here.) "I was
drawn to photograph these women because it's a chance
to get to know stories that are not often told,"
she says. "I don't think I'm alone in finding
it enlightening to learn about older women's attitudes,
triumphs, sorrows, fears and hopes-- especially when
looking for clues on how to build meaningful lives
for ourselves." The exhibit, which opens at the
Museum of the City of New York March 8 and runs thorugh
July 8, 2003 will tour the United States throughout
2003 and 2004. Chornesky expects "70 Up"
will serve as a city-by-city focus for increasing
public awareness about social and economic issues
surrounding women's aging. Visit 70up.org
for more information.
Lansbury began her Hollywood career
with an Oscar nomination at age 19 for her
performance in Gaslight, but she
truly felt a success when she appeared in
Mame at the age of 41 and became
a golden girl of Broadway. Lansbury
her television career at 59 with the long
Murder, She Wrote.
At age 77, she's going strong and has aspirations
of playing one more juicy film role.
"Being sexy as an
older woman doesn't mean that you're looking
to hop into bed with the first person who
gives you the eye. It has to do with demeanor.
It has to do with the way you react, it
has to do with energy and interest and excitement
about life. That is sexy to me and I think
that is what sexiness in older women is
all about-- enthusiasm and excitment about
life. Because life is really exciting...
Farm Workers (UFW) union in 1962, Dolores
Huerta has dedicated her life to
the struggle for justice and dignity for migrant
farm workers. One of the nation's most powerful
and respected labor leaders, she has been
service, labor, Hispanic and women's awards.
She was inducted into the Women's Hall of
Fame in 1993.
Si, se puede.
Yes, it can be done. When you get older,
you have a better perspective because you
can look back and measure what's been done.
So it always gives you more hope for the
future. If you stay active, you definitely
stay younger. Older women who have always
been active have advantages. When you've
been around a long time, you know a lot
of people who when they were younger were
supporters or the staff of a union or people
you dealt with. Now they're in higher levels
of government or organizations, so it makes
it easier to do things because if they know
of your work and respect you, they can open
a lot of doors for you."
Krim is a biologist, fundraiser adn
lobbyist for AIDS who has taken bold action
from a young age when she worked in Europe
for the underground during World War II. Her
AIDS work began in the lab in the early '80s
with research on the use of alpha Interferon
to treat an AIDS-related cancer. This soon
evolved into her cofounding the American
Foundation for AIDS Research
(amfAR), now the preeminent AIDS research
and advocacy organization, which she chairs.
This work, started when she was 55, has
earned her many awards, including the Presidential
Medal of Freedom in 2000.
"I was most vigorous
when I was 50. When I was 30, I could very
easily dance all night and go back to the
lab the next morning. I couldn't do that
now. But, when I was 30 I was also easily
intimidated, very shy and I felt awkward
in some social situations. I lost that by
the age of 40 and, by the time I was 50,
I felt really confident and calm. It was
a wonderful feeling. It comes with age,
and I still have it.
Je suis bien dans
ma peau, as we say in French-- I feel
well in my skin."
Leonard is living proof that it's
never too late to follow a dream. A world
class track athlete, she only found her passion
at 58 after leading a self-admittedly uninspired
life as a teacher and housewife. At 74 she
travels the globe for track competitions and
"I'm very happy when
my birthday comes-- because of my running.
Soon I'll be 75. I look forward to the new
age group I'll be in because I see a window
of opportunity for a World Championship.
I know what I have to do and I'll do it!
Age hasn't gotten in the way of my ambition.
My dad has been really influential in my
life. I started running when I was 58. My
mother said,'Sumi, you shouldn't do that;
it's too dangerous,' and my father said,
'If you're happy, go for it!'"