Artist’s Statement

These portraits celebrate what it means today to age as a woman, a vastly underrepresented demographic in photography. Supplemented with an accompanying haiku, each portrait is, in essence, a collaboration between photographer, author, and sitter, in which individuality and personality shine through. The haikus eloquently give further insight to the sitters, suggesting additional depth to the portraits and their subjects. The short biographical narratives delve into lives rich with accomplishments and stories.

Distinct from the work in the first exhibition of Women Among Us, the images in this portfolio were taken out of the studio, documenting women instead in their personal environments, some in their homes, some in their workspaces, each a space of unique significance. The portraits are loosely inspired by the German photographer August Sander, specifically his decades­­-long project People of the Twentieth Century. I’ve aimed to include individuating aspects of the environments inhabited by my subjects: beakers in the lab, paintings in the studio, an inspirational bookshelf, a child hiding behind a curtain. The environmental portrait offers insight into the personalities of each woman through an intimate encounter with a meaningful space.

Becki Rutta

Women Among Us

A non-profit organization (since 2022), Women Among Us aims to bring awareness of the contributions of women within the Tallahassee community, aged sixty-five and older. Through our exhibitions and community outreach we hope for such women to be not only seen but recognized and valued as well. Women Among Us: Portraits of Strength, our second group project, continues to explore a series of related questions: How do we age? How can we represent the process of aging? What does aging mean relative to a life of meaningful achievements and contributions.

Each of the twenty women featured in this portfolio has impacted their communities through either education or activism. Some continue to do so. From revitalizing neighborhoods to reimagining spaces to founding schools to preserving the environment, these women are community leaders. In a concerted effort to convey the depth and richness of their experiences, all twenty of the women sitters took the time to share their stories, each as individual as the women themselves.

The members of Women Among Us include Eleanor Dietrich and Linda Hall, who assembled the collaborators and brought them together; Becki Rutta, who took the portraits; Mary Jane Ryals, who wrote the accompanying poems and prose; and Lynn Knight, who designed the catalogue. Each contributed an important role in bringing to life this portfolio of work.