Generational photo exhibit opens Friday

‘Who Matters? Vol. 2' at two downtown locations
Generational photo exhibit opens Friday
Photo courtesy of the Madison Public Library
This photo in the exhibit "Who Matters? Volume2: Intergenerational Photo and Story Project" brings together (left to right) Tammy, her mother Adriana and Tammy's daughters Isabel and baby Noelia.

At a photo shoot last fall, Madison artist Jennifer Bastian became captivated by a single woman surrounded by a gaggle of neighborhood children. Although a few parents lended a hand, Bastian had only a few minutes to capture the energy of the kids, ranging in age from 4 to 10.

“It was just really beautiful to see them interact and to see how much they care about (the woman) and how much she cares about them,” Bastian says. “The mutual respect they have for each other was apparent, and there was playfulness and fun in the moment.”

The moment was captured and included in Bastian’s “Who Matters? Volume 2: Intergenerational Photo and Story Project,” a collaboration between the Madison Public Library and the Madison Senior Center. Both locations (including the central library on Mifflin Street) will host the month-long photo exhibit starting Feb. 1.

Two opening receptions will take place Friday. The event is 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Madison Senior Center and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the library.
Generational photo exhibit opens Friday

In October and November, Bastian held group photo sessions with families and friends in the neighborhoods surrounding the Hawthorne, Sequoya and Goodman South library branches. The hook was each portrait had to include at least one person 55 years old or older.

“Who Matters?” is the brainchild of Laurie Bibo, multigenerational coordinator at the Madison Senior Center, and Mary Fahndrich, community engagement librarian in the Madison Public Library’s Home Service and Social Services Department.

Bastian, an artist-in-residence at the central library’s Bubbler in 2017, hopes people who view the exhibit will reflect on the strength and value of bonds that form across generations. “Who Matters?” is in keeping with the Bubbler’s mission to foster art creation and appreciation by people of all ages and abilities.

The first “Who Matters?” in 2018 was so successful that the Madison Senior Center received an award for excellence from the National Institute of Senior Centers.

Fahndrich says her favorite photo shoot from the current exhibit is one of a grandmother and grandson who arrived at the library branch carrying an item that was covered up by a towel.

“When it was time to take their picture, they unveiled what was hiding beneath the towel: A picture of the woman’s son, the young man’s father who had passed away,” Fahndrich recalls.

Bastian, who has years of experience as a portrait photographer, currently works as director and arts manager at Communication, an all-ages music and arts venue on Madison’s east side.

She printed and mounted all the photos at both “Who Matters?” exhibit locations and gave smaller prints to the participants. Bastian said she relished the project.

“As a photographer and as an artist, if one person is touched in a meaningful way, I feel that I’ve succeeded,” she says. “If they feel represented in a good light [or] they feel honored by their representation at the library, the space that the library and senior center are giving them, then what more could we ask for?”

“Who Matters? Volume 2” was funded with a Madison Public Library Foundation grant, which gives thousands of dollars annually to libraries throughout the City of Madison.

Tamira Madsen is a writer based in in Fitchburg. She writes “Curator” every month for Madison Magazine.