Description - Women, Aging, and Art: A Crosscultural Anthology by Frima Fox Hofrichter
The dry, wrinkled skin, crow’s feet and rheumy eyes of old women can be seen universally; yet the actual images and their meaning differ widely, and the very absence of these old women in certain settings also reveals both a discomfort with the aged and an ease in their invisibility. This is true in writing about art and often in the art itself. The physical markers of aging, even implications of death or the nearness of death, make many of these images of old women, haunting; in the 16th and 17th centuries, they become emblems of anger and avarice, though portraits of known elderly women are often created with a sense of awe, and in some cases, authority.
This book provides a frank examination of old women, from medieval “old wives” to contemporary reimaginations of shamans and witches and empowering self-portraits. Works from medieval Europe to colonial-time Polynesia, present West Africa, Japan, and the Americas, in a multiplicity of media are explored. These studies of varied representations of “old women” offer fresh perspectives and a dialogue about society’s values and preconceptions regarding the “golden years” in different times and cultures. Images of old women may be the very opposite of what one considers the ideal, but this discussion makes these often overlooked images seem fresh and highlights their many positive associations.
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