The Greater Los Angeles area is one of the country’s most populous and diverse regions. Los Angeles County alone is home to more than 1.2 million residents over the age of 65. Many, if not most, of these Angelenos have their origins in other parts of the world. They hail from far and wide — Europe, Asia, Africa, India, Central and South America, Mexico, and beyond — and have carried with them their memories and experiences.
Searching for the key to happiness and resilience in the face of adversity, in 2006 photographer, Los Angeles native, and USC alumnus Barry Shaffer and his wife Barbara set out to meet and document the lives of these oldest residents, weaving together the stories and hard-won wisdom of 70 remarkable older individuals all over eighty years of age, each representing their unique country and/or culture.
Shaffer and his wife Barbara conducted hours of in-depth interviews with each subject before he ever picked up his camera, an approach that allowed him to capture their deeply personal responses to the process of aging, the experience of leaving homes behind, the scars of war and conflict, the beauty of tradition, and the challenges of adjusting to and surviving in a rapidly changing world.
This exhibit features a selection of 31 black-and-white portraits accompanied by interview excerpts and biographical information on each individual, including great-grandchildren of black slaves, the last living survivor of the Armenian Genocide, a Tibetan refugee who fled the Chinese invasion of her country, a witness to the dropping of the nuclear bomb over Hiroshima, and survivors of today’s Middle East conflicts, each sharing compelling life stories from around the globe, each a living repository of the world’s—and Los Angeles’—history. Quiet Heroes is at once a highly individual look at LA’s older inhabitants and a celebration of the astonishing array of cultural, ethnic, and religious traditions that make Los Angeles a truly global metropolis.
Embodying the Sophie Davis Art Gallery’s mission to illuminate topics related to aging across the life course, Quiet Heroes ~ Over Eighty gives voice to those Angelenos so often forgotten in today’s bustle and testifies to the beauty and dignity of age. Shaffer’s marriage of image and word forges a bond between the subjects and the viewer, encouraging us to examine our own lives, values, and place in the world.
Please note: all ages listed for participants are their age at the time the photograph was taken.
For more information, contact Barry Shaffer Photography:
(818) 744-3839 ● firstname.lastname@example.org ● barryshafferphotography.com