PROJECTS > •Lydia at Work

This portrait series is of Lydia Fern Apelgren. Coping with the hardships that osteoarthritis causes, she continues to work past retirement age in order to remain on her current health care plan. She has been employed as a department store clerk for the past twelve years, this November she turned seventy. She works as hard as she can but her body does not cooperate as much as she would like. By the end of each day the short flight of stairs to her apartment are a difficult struggle and exhaustion overwhelms her each night.

She expends much mental energy on the things she should've done in life and now waits for retirement in order to carry out her lifelong aspiration, oil painting.
In the early sixties she studied Painting and Printmaking at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now The University of the Arts). After graduation she was employed as a graphic designer for John Wanamaker & Co., the first department store in Philadelphia.
As the case for many women of her time, settling down and starting a family meant giving up her own dreams to care for others. She spent many years trying to maintain creative practice, but family struggles deterred her from any serious commitment. She waits now to resume with passion what she once let go. 2010