In 2012, photographer Betsy Schneider embarked on a project to explore the experience of being thirteen. Traveling around the United States, the Guggenheim grant recipient chronicled the lives of 250 13-year-olds, creating still portraits and video documentation of each. “I began with my daughter, her friends and other children I already knew. From there I reached out through my own social networks, schools, clubs and other organizations,” says Schneider. The resulting body of work creates a rich portrait of a group of Americans whose lives began at the turn of the millennium and who are coming of age now.
The exhibition includes approximately 40 large photographic prints, 8 video projections, and an archive where visitors can see pictures and words by each of the 13-year-olds photographed by Schneider. The portraits illustrate how differently the age of 13 can appear. Some subjects exude confidence while others practically shrink from the camera. Some 13-year-olds look mature enough to be mistaken for young college students, while others dwell in childlike bodies. Some of the 13-year-olds convey a self-possessed clarity and appear motivated about the future while others appear comfortably ensconced in the current moment. The subjects’ words heighten these disparities, and further suggest that the 250 portraits represent 250 distinctly unique people, a group about whom it would be hard to generalize or make assumptions.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.