“The Face of Age”

January 3, 2008 at 8:50 pm (art, neat things)

Photographer Mark Story once was inspired to capture images of those who looked aged beyond their years, and was then further inspired to complete a project titled “Living in Three Centuries: The Face of Age.” The portraits therein include ones of people that fit the title; that were born in the 19th century and lived to see the 21st, and also some from his first wave of inspiration that are technically, but not necessarily perceptibly, younger.

Visit his online gallery.

There are some short and fun biographies to read, too.

An excerpt from the posted artist’s statement:

The photographs for this portrait series were taken in various locations around the world between 1987 and 2005.

The Gerontology Research Group estimates there are 250,000 centenarians (people 100 years and older) currently living in the world. In rare instances, people live to 110 years and beyond, inspiring a new demographic label: supercentenarian. The Gerontology Research Group, through rigorous investigation of records, acknowledges about 65 supercentenarians, and estimates that about 350 are alive worldwide today.

The idea to photograph people who have lived in three centuries evolved over the course of the project. First, I was simply interested in taking portraits of people who appear worn beyond their years by living extraordinarily hard lives. Those experiences drew me to centenarians, and on to supercentenarians and their stories.

Supercentenarians: awesome new vocab word of the day!

Via Boing Boing.



  1. robertjerome said,

    Wow. viewing those pictures inspires me to want to become a centenarian when I’m old. My grandfather lived to be 97 and he liked to tell stories about living through the Great Depression, working as the state accountant for CA while Ronald Reagan was governor, etc. People that age become less like individuals and more like historical encyclopedias (people want to probe them about what it was like to be young at a time before television, etc.).

    My grandmother is now a nonagenarian and she likes to shrug off the accomplishment of living nearly a century by frequently saying, “Being 90 is nothing, everybody gets to make it to 90 nowadays.” I often don’t share my grandmother’s optimism but looking at these pictures inspires me in a whole new way.

    I love how many of the men said that the secret to their longevity was not fooling around with women or whiskey. I also love how so many of them rode the rails with the hobos just like Jack Kerouac.


  2. Emily said,

    “viewing those pictures inspires me to want to become a centenarian when I’m old. ”

    Me too; at least I think so now. The inevitable changes in my health, body, and related level of happiness after almost another century (!) might change that at some point, of course. I wish you luck in your aspiration for such longevity!

    Thanks for sharing your reactions.

  3. katkmeanders said,

    Those pictures are intriguing. The one fellow, (portrait 84) let me go back and get the portrait number, but in particular his is a face I’d want to sculpt. So many of them had a lot of worry, but some also had a lot of laughter, like in portraits 33 and 43. One fellow portrait 86, hardly made any expressions in his life, except frowns it looks like. His face was largely placid/unlined except two telltale downward tilting lines graven at the corners of his mouth. Portrait 1 made me pause, then sadly agree with the idea the person expressed. Some reservations really are that bad. No indoor toilets, primitive conditions, third world conditions. As a homeless person there are places he can go to get access to a toilet, and places he can go to get warm or cool. Sadly, he might eat better on the streets too. In Alaska, for example they must hunt moose and the like to survive. If they don’t, they won’t have meat to eat. I know this from interacting with a Native Alaskan living up on the islands there. It is a subsistence lifestyle.

  4. katkmeanders said,

    Drat! I also meant to add, that I am showing my little brother (who has worked for the railroad for years and years, as a “gandy dancer”) the picture of the railroad worker, and urge him to get exfoliating face wash and special face lotion formulated for men. Unless he wants to end up looking like The Thing from The Fantastic 4.


  5. Daisy said,

    Do you sculpt, Kat?

  6. katkmeanders said,

    When I have access to facilities I like to try my hand at sculpting, yes. I can throw pots (takes me longer to center the clay though, tiny hands) and make good slab and pinch pots. I often make pinch pots and then work to sculpt them into flower shapes. I don’t currently have access to facilities though. (Need a pug mill, kiln, wheels, clay etc.)

  7. Daisy said,

    That’s cool, you should post pictures if you have them. I’m taking a sculpture class this semester that I’m inappropriately excited about. : )

  8. katkmeanders said,

    Any pictures I got were lost in the divorce. *sad* Some of my pots are still out there though, I gave them as gifts. I was able for a time to go to this town’s college art facility and make some flower pots, I got told by the teacher I could come there any time. I want to take his course at some point, especially now that he doesn’t require the final project to be a chainsaw sculpture. (BAD JUJU for me! I’m dangerprone…) He injured his leg with a small chainsaw and was in a cast for a long time, that changed his perception. I haven’t managed to get over there in some time, maybe I can see if I can track down my various transcripts again and see if they’ll let me just take an art class and not more classes than I really want at one time.

    The town where I graduated High School was hit by an old scale measure F4 tornado a few years back, fortunately only one life was lost. I believe it’d be F5 by the new scale. In any case, a lot of records were lost. I need my HS transcripts again for any other courses. *sigh*

    See April 21 2001, small Kansas town.


  9. katkmeanders said,

    Hmm, ok it seems it would still be an EF4. See the two articles below. In any case, for some reason they still had my transcripts there, and the High School was heavily damaged. I have to apply to the State I think.



  10. katkmeanders said,

    Er, and see here and here for photos and an account. (Since I dropped the bombshell into the conversation, I know it will pique curiousity….. I’m not a tease.)



  11. katkmeanders said,

    Er, and about the “no warning part” in the CNN story. See, the person who was to press the button to sound the tornado sirens…was in Great Bend which is nine miles away from Hoisington. They saw no danger from where they were, so ignored the National Weather Service and didn’t sound the alarm. I hope they went to jail, or at the least got fired and can never fill such a position of trust, a post of such importance, again.

  12. Emily said,

    Due to some combination of bad luck, ignorance, and a lack of imaginative creativity, I never considered the possible existence of chainsaw sculpture until your comment prompted me to search google! Daisy, want to give it a try next time we’re up at the ranch? (Jk…)

    Also, what a story about that tornado. I’m infinitely afraid of tornadoes and other disasters of the kind.

    Hopefully school bureaucracies (transcripts, etc.) don’t hold you back from your continued exploration of sculpting :)

  13. katkmeanders said,

    Oh, there are some truly beautiful chainsaw sculptures out there. Some Kansas towns (Wichita? I think) have specially commisioned sculptures by a particular artist, can’t recall their name, or gender. Sadly though, they are easy to vandalize. I remember seeing some of the sculptures, then reading about how they were having to be repaired/replaced because of horrid cretins wrecking them on a “lark”. *GROWL*

    Wichita is a city that you should explore if you are ever down Kansas way. It has a lot of “casual” art around it. The main road, Kellogg (US 400) has specially commissioned concrete murals on some of its underpasses. There is a metal horse sculpture somewhere in Old Town Wichita too. Their zoo (Sedgewick County Zoo) and Botannica are worth a visit as well as their numerous museums. Give yourself a few days, perhaps plan out a visit with Wichita as your “base” for one leg of the trip, and you can meander your way across the state to see what there is to see. Now, we may have teeny tiny towns, and a lot of us live in poverty with no thought of “Hey, by everyone else’s standards I’m really poor, poor me!” but we have some culture here in spite of it. Cheyenne Bottoms, if you love nature and nature photography, is a place to go see. In amongst all the rural decay, are semi-polished, rough, and brilliant gems.








  14. Daisy said,

    Daisy, want to give it a try next time we’re up at the ranch? (Jk…)

    Just kidding! Whatever, let’s do it.

  15. Emily said,

    I actually visit Kansas every few years or so; I have lots of family there. But usually those trips entail busy busy cramming of many consolidated activities into just a few days, and there isn’t much leisure time. Maybe next time I’ll make an effort to venture outside of Kansas City, though. That might be nice.

    And, wow, you are just the Queen of links!

  16. katkmeanders said,

    *blush* Sometimes. When I think it will help illustrate things. =) If I get curious I do a search and pull up pages myself. You don’t want to know what my taskbar looks like, I don’t think. Heh… (I *HATE* tabbed browsing, I just don’t like it. It isn’t that it is “new”, it’s just not as logical to me.) Did you see all the sculptures that the Botannica has? Beautiful! Time for another visit there, sez I. That, and I love the “Amazon Rainforest” section of the Sedgewick County Zoo. (It is large enough, that it is a more “gentle” captivity for the creatures. They aren’t in little cages. Not that I find zoos too ethical in ways, yet, with things like the tigers and the problems of inbreeding and vanishing habitat, it is a needful Evil. *sad*) I’d crop my hair close for a chance to go be in the Rainforest for a good long visit. I am most at peace when out in nature.

  17. katkmeanders said,

    Adding, on the subject of tigers and other creatures like them. Yes, I’d much rather swat the greedy corporations and make them behave. There are so many that need swatting, and no momentum built up to do so yet, that the time it will take to eventually accomplish this means loss of species. So…*patch* *patch* *patch* =(

    Was I the only one *steers topic back* who looked at those faces to see what their habitual expressions were in life? Did anyone else do this? Mavelous faces I think. I don’t fear them. They have their own beauty.

  18. katkmeanders said,

    “Mavelous faces I think. I don’t fear them. They have their own beauty.” I make a tangental exception towards the railroad worker’s skin in particular. It looks like he had a lot of sunburn, and painful wind chapping too. (I can see some of that in other faces that worked the land too, but I think he took the most “punishment” of all of them.) I don’t want my little brother to end up with skin that looks so hurty, expecially since we have a family history of skin cancer. So, I’m going to urge him to use sunscreen, exfoliate his skin/cleanse it, and use some lotion to help take care of it. He’s my lil brother, I want him to stay pretty as pretty as he can. Heh…

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