Hoxton Mini Press just published the new book by Jenny Lewis, One Hundred Years.
This is a note from the photographer. I’ve thought for a while now, that the ordinary is actually pretty extraordinary. You don’t have to look far to find the good stuff on your doorstep. It happens. We are drawn to our own tribe – people with a similar path, the same fears, people at the same stage of life that we can relate to. But isn’t it more interesting to stop and lift your gaze from your own life and observe what else is going on? To really listen to the experience of our elders, or reflect on a more youthful, uncluttered view?
I met Nellie when she was 105, and took her portrait for Mother’s Day back in 2018. I couldn’t have been more engaged by her company, hungrily gathering up the snippets of her life. We didn’t spend long together, as she was dressed and ready to go to church. My time was up, but her energy and attitude got me thinking: how could I engineer this kind of life lecture?
Over the last three years, I have used photography to invite myself into 100 different shoes in my community, capturing people of every age from birth to 100. I’ve visited social clubs and parks, tennis courts and allotments, homes and workplaces, encouraging participants to nominate others that have touched their lives. My perception of what I thought I knew was continually tested. These were meaningful conversations, with depth and vulnerability, encompassing all human emotion and experience. Lives that ebb and flow, changing course at any moment. I was given insight into the fragility of it all, and the human capacity for resilience.
Recently, I was struck by the words of poet Amanda Gorman, as she recited at the Capitol: ‘As we grieved, we grew.’ It’s clear to me now, from the many people I’ve met while making One Hundred Years, that every sorrow we endure helps us live a little deeper, love a little stronger, experience the world with a few more hues. Human interaction has an energy. It recharges the batteries in a way nothing else can. Working on this series has changed how I want to engage with the world, and the people in it. My hope is that it might cause a shift in your perspective, might encourage you to lift your gaze, too.
Thank you to all the people who agreed to participate in this project, the 100 in this book and the many others gathered along the way.
Jenny Lewis, 2021
One Hundred Years by Jenny Lewis is published by Hoxton Mini Press