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With a Little Help From My Friends

As women who grew up in the 60s and 70s, some of us shared a sense of the old alternative lifestyle, where beauty was about what’s on the inside, and liberation and freedom of the spirit was key ,  and a life of community sharing, essential. Today in our ever changing and rocky existence, additional needs have been added, such as; a good steady job, affordable healthcare, and a home to call our own. Some of us are able to accept our age gracefully, with the added few extra pounds, letting our hair grow out and become grey, the lines and wrinkles, creaking knees, and poorer eyesight. All of us are striving to accept the changes that aging is bringing to our faces and bodies if not with open arms, then with a bit of reluctance, remembering how we once looked when we were sixteen.  

Thinking about the unfinished business that I have with the way I look today, I wondered if my women friends were going through the same thing. I wanted to see and feel how my sisters were feeling about all this as well, and maybe if we all had our portraits taken, and discuss how we are feeling, with even video taped discussions, we could all go through a form of catharsis, learning together something about ourselves, and maybe grow just a little more.So, “With a Little Help from my Friends”, I hope to give back to my women friends, taking part in this project, a joyful and significant way to remember who we were then, and pose these, and other questions; Are we really that different now? Sure, we have aged, and what about deep inside us? Do we still dream the same dreams? Are our basic fascinations with life so different? Do we still want the same things for ourselves and those close to us?We met and worked together in my home/studio, in small groups beginning with short one-on-one interviews and continuing with group discussions. Individual portraits were then taken where each participant chose her own style of clothes to wear, to reflect how she liked to dress back then, her favorite colors, fabrics and styles.I also incorporated in each portrait, an old picture that each participant brought of herself, from the 60s and 70s. This added an additional angle for the viewer to become a more integral part of the process, as we all look at aging in a multitude of different ways.The most interesting aspect of the project for me were the conversations after the video and portraits were taken.

After “unloading” our pasts during the videotaped interview, we all were able to relax and enjoy each other’s company. After a few drinks, some lively discussion took place about things we did back then that we would never reveal to people today. Protesting, love ins, taking acid, hitchhiking across country, living the land, were all things that we partook of back then. Yet if we speak about them today, we would be looked upon in a very different light indeed. Some would even call us Socialists (God forbid) or radical anarchist (who would have thought), or even worse,” unpatriotic.” It is strange to think how the world has in some ways changed back to our worst nightmares, a world where Reagan and Nixon would feel very comfortable in indeed.I want to thank all the participants, Lydia Burdick, Nehama Strassberg, Carole Forman, Carol Anshien, Peggy Kay, Barbara O'hara, Mindy Thompson Fulllilove, Caren Ellis Fried, Shari Gluckstadt, Debbie Baldwin, Nancy Kramer, Jane Graver, Elise Gura, Sue Sonkin, Wendye Chaitin and Trix Rosen, who took the time out of their busy schedules to share stories and memories when we were young. I also want to thank my life companion, Charlie Steiner, for his support.


Peace and love,Leona


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