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Kentucky Woman: Finding Forty
18 Sep 2013
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In 2012, Julie-Anna Carlisle started the Kentucky Woman: Finding Forty documentary, with photography and prose, inspired by feminist ethics, a documentary of women crossing into the middle years celebrating their beauty, wisdom, and experiences. From Julie-Anna:

I was able to initiate my project through grant funding from the Kentucky Foundation for Women (KFW) and became a grant recipient again in 2013 to help continue the work. I cannot express my gratitude enough about my support through KFW. If I ever get a chance to meet Sallie Bingham, I will throw my arms around her neck for her generosity in establishing the KFW.

All of my photographic work is done using an old large-format 4x5 camera and medium format camera, using film that I meticulously develop and print in my darkroom. The process is slow and, at times, quite painstaking, but the end result is beautiful and rich, printed on silver gelatin fiber-based papers and is split-toned in selenium and copper. I love the old traditional process that is constant and doesn’t evolve in the racing technology. I love film. As a student, I did many works in digital format that I can no longer retrieve because the technology through which it was produced has become obsolete.  When I work in film, it still thrills me to this day, to be alone in my darkroom—my sanctuary, where my hands bathe the film to full development, expose the images to light; under the red lights, I rock the tray, the image, breathing it to life.

The women that I have met while working on this project are amazing and their passions are interesting; the stories they’ve shared have touched my heart—I so look forward to sharing their passions, inspirations and wisdom with others.  

The restrictions on women as mothers, lovers, professionals have lessened greatly since women won the fight for their voting rights, and, although, women of all ages benefit from this expanding freedom, in my examination, women who are in their forties are at the peak of their power and beauty; some are starting their second careers; some are first time mothers; some are starting their second families; some are grandmothers; some have climbed to prominent roles in their professions. It is my goal to document a tapestry of women, from different cultures, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, and relationships, all from Kentucky. My great-grandmother, who helped raise me, only had a 3rd grade education and reared 15 children; my closest grandmother only had a 5th grade education; my mother gave birth to me at 14 and, somehow, managed to rise out of poverty and become a successful entrepreneur.  It is my goal to celebrate the women in Kentucky who are confident, strong, doing what they love, and have something inspiring to share with other women. My hope is to finish the project in the form of a photo essay/book and a touring photo exhibit of 40 women who deserve Kentucky’s attention.”


The artist or arts organization telling this story was supported in part by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. KFW is based on the belief that when women and girls advance, so does Kentucky. For more information about the foundation and the social change artmaking being done by the individuals and organizations it supports, visit www.kfw.org." 


Documentary Photography Culture Empowerment Gender Rural-Urban Women Interview/Profile Museum/Exhibit Project/Initiative Southeast Photographer Visual Artist
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