The years 1946 through 1964 comprised the period that gave birth to the Baby Boomers.
The culture in which the Boomers grew up was quite different from that which we know today.
This generation was shaped by large changes in society, such as the end of World War II, the national recuperation from the Great Depression, the final decades of segregation and the development of the first space programs, to name a few.
It’s no surprise that the American Baby Boomer generation has always had a lot to say, and a lot to do.
A show sponsored by AARP, “The Boomer List” has made its third stop right here in Capitol Hill’s Photo Center Northwest, before it continues on to seven more stops around the nation.
Known portrait photographer and documentary filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders was commissioned by The Newseum in Washington D.C. to create an exhibit similar to his prior “Lists” to commemorate the Baby Boomer years.
Sanders handpicked 18 significant Americans, each born in a different year of the generation. Like Greenfield-Sander’s other “Lists,” this one is also a documentary where he explores the 18 subjects deeper.
“The Boomer List” features known entertainers, writers, scholars, activists and members of other fields as well.
Originally these portraits were to be shown chronologically but PCNW’s Executive Director Michelle Dunn Marsh decided to take a different approach.
“I wanted to show the diversity in this exhibit from the start,” Marsh said. She asked herself “what will cause people to look at the pictures longer?” and went from there.
She used the layout of the gallery to her advantage, spreading the portraits in a way that would show the diversity of their subjects. From the entrance, one is able to see a glimpse of many of the pieces whose subjects are of different ethnicities and occupations.
No one wall is dominated by one type of person.The subjects on display are quite different from one another, and for many the only thing that ties them to each other is the fact that they were born to the same generation.
Marsh speaks to this, stating that sometimes it’s important to take a step back in order to reconnect with one another, despite not agreeing. She speaks to the time of change that we are in and the need for togetherness.
Every part of the exhibit, from placement to content, represents a story. Everyone grows up with something, and “The Boomer List” allows the public to learn more about that generation.
It gives people the chance to explore the Baby Boomers beyond the surface through photographs and snippets of interviews.
For example, Julieanna Richardson, a historian and founder of the History Makers, occupies the leading wall of the exhibit, in honor of both Black History month and Women’s History Month.
Actor John Leguizamo’s portrait stands alone toward the reception area, striking a fun pose that reminds the viewer to smile.
Director of the Johnson Space Center Ellen Ochoa’s photograph talks about the impact the initial space programs had on her. Samuel L. Jackson’s speaks on being a child of segregation and how it influenced him, and Peter Staley’s interview touches on how the perception of AIDS has changed since he was younger.
During a member’s preview on Thursday, Jan. 12, Sanders’s work was described as an impactful exhibit that tells the story of individuals and a generation as a whole.
Peter Hunsberger, a member of the center since 2009, calls the exhibit “psychologically impactful.”
The level of detail and emotion in each picture really resonates with him. He found that the portraits of each person made him feel as if the subjects were “real and present, not just posed.”
Lea McKill, a newer member to the center and a photographer herself, found great insight in each portrait. Some of the people she recognized, while others were completely new faces.
“They’re fun, but they’re also more than that,” McKill said. She found herself being affected by them all, both educationally and emotionally.
“The Boomer List” runs at PCNW from now until March 12 and the exhibit is open six days a week.