Sally Peterson‘s grandmother, Cecile, lived to be 101 years old, and also played an important role in Peterson’s life. After meeting a few centenarians and listening to their stories, Peterson realized she needed to make them the focus of a portrait project. “The Elderly are valuable to society in countless ways; and yet, mainstream society pushes them aside,” Peterson told PDN via email. “They’ve been eye-witness to incredible change during this century. I want to give these people the voice they deserve.”
Peterson found her subjects through research and by visiting nursing facilities, like the one her grandmother had lived in. “Slowly over time, word of mouth spread and I began to build trust. Then, after a very fortunate interview with Slate.com, people began contacting me about centenarians close to them.”
After seven years, Peterson wrapped up her “One Hundred” series in in 2014. One of her fondest memories from the project was an interview with Lillian who lived in Carmichael, California. Lillian was 75 when her husband passed away 35 years ago. Lillian “blossomed” after that, Peterson says. “I just loved the idea of someone ‘blossoming’ at 75. And I loved her unapologetic honesty, too. Candor seems to be one of the gifts that comes with getting older.”
A few Peterson’s portraits are included in a Month of Photo LA (MOPLA) group show at Arena 1 at Santa Monica Art Studios through May 2, 2015.