by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
The aging image finds eternal life in Becki Rutta’s newest photography series, “Women Among Us: Portraits of Strength,” on display at LeMoyne Arts through Oct. 28.
Women are expected to be many things: intelligent, sassy, wealthy, fertile, funny, flirty, humble, a feminist with a soft spot for men, and above all, young. No pressure!
Between countless filters and airbrushing, what a photo shows regarding age is a fallacy. Programs used by photographers and cinematographers manipulate light, hue, saturation, and, in turn, the viewers’ perspective. It is a conscious artistic choice to bypass manipulation, stay true to the subject’s natural state, and create an honest image. Thus, to be bare is to be brave, and to be brave is to be beautiful.
With 20 new portraits, this 2023 exhibition highlights local, accomplished women age 65 or older. “As women age, their relevance seems to shift. They are pushed into the background. I am hoping this work brings older women to the forefront,” says Rutta. “I wanted their age to be apparent, not covered up.” Rutta hopes these images leave viewers questioning what aging looks like today. How can we reconcile beauty with the wear and tear of a life filled with meaningful achievements and worthy contributions?
Rutta’s talent for capturing images was nurtured by her father at a young age. Gifted a trusty Canon AE1 35mm film camera, she began an artistic career that ultimately earned her a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in photography.
Through the art of photography, Rutta found herself exploring the world visually through light. She felt blessed that her career began during the initial fall of analog photography and the rise of digital. It allowed her photography to benefit from the best of both worlds. However, Rutta admits, “There is still nothing quite like the experience of standing in front of a big, beautiful print.”
The feminine energy surrounding Rutta these past four years has profoundly impacted her ideas on womanhood and motherhood.
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