Cynthia and Barbara chose desert colors-deeply connected to their life in the Anza Borrego Desert for the background of their painting. To show the interweave in their relationship, I used each woman’s choice on her side of the canvas, but layered the two different colors together at the center. They were one of the most mirrored couples I have ever observed; even their dress, conversation and gesture echoed each other.
Their sharp and moving book (Look Me in the Eye, Old Women, Aging and Ageism, Minneapolis: Spinsters Ink, Second Edition, 1991) opened my eyes to the societal discounting of old women, ageism in the women’s movement, lesbian and gay services, health services and in the politics of beauty. I asked both of these writers to add their own text to the canvas; each with great thought painted the words (printed out below) on to the canvas.
Excerpts from the right side of the painting by Barbara Macdonald:
“Beneath all imposed silences lies power.”
“This is my body doing this thing. I cannot stop it. My own body is going through a process that only my body knows about. I never grew old before. Never died before. I don’t really know how it’s done. I wouldn’t know when to begin for no time would be right.”
“The truth is I like growing old.
Excerpts from the left side of the painting by Cynthia Rich:
“A white-haired woman with a grey-haired woman talking about lunch...still they know who we are and they know our power. They know we are a threat.”
“Our task is to take in these bodies as part of these souls.”