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March 27, 2014

Photographers show impact of aging in Wabash Valley

TERRE HAUTE — Photos on display at Indiana State University on Thursday night revealed the face of aging in the Wabash Valley.

Seventeen photographs taken by local artists were framed and on easels inside a meeting room at ISU, adjoining the gallery that hosted the exhibition “Aging Across America.”  

The pictures on display for “Aging in the Wabash Valley” were the winning entries of a local photo competition run by ISU and Arts Illiana.

The winners were announced during a Thursday night event which welcomed Dr. Jeffrey Levine, the photographer of the display for “Aging Across America.”

Several elderly men and women of the Wabash Valley depicted in the local exhibit were engaged in various activities, including prayer, gardening, on the beach, at church or tutoring.

The overall winner was an entry called “Rose,” taken by Brazil resident and Tribune-Star employee Sheila K. Ter Meer. Rose is actually her mother.

Rose “is one of several young-at heart in the Wabash Valley who refuse to let a slower gait and aging eyesight keep them from seeking amusement or social companionship,” the photo description stated.

The photo shows details of Rose’s face — wrinkles and all — with a faint view of buildings and water on the background. The photo was taken last June during a dinner cruise on the Ohio River.

“You can see that she’s 77 years old, but she’s beautiful,” Ter Meer said.

Also noticeable on the photograph is Rose’s big, colorful hat decorated with butterflies and a huge pink rose. Her outfits match all the time, Ter Meer said. “She dresses like that all the time. With flair.”

Even though Rose never learned to drive, has macular degeneration in one eye and walks with a cane, she “gets up every day” and dresses up with style for Karaoke nights and day trips with her daughter.

“She’s out more than I am,” Ter Meer said, laughing.

Ter Meer, who just started taking “serious” photographs, was happy but surprised by the recognition.

“I was shocked because I’ve only been … exhibiting [photographs] … for a little over a year,” Ter Meer said. She said she has met so many great photographers during her 33-year tenure at the Tribune-Star and more recently as a member of the River City Art Association. These photographers inspired her.

“I learned so much from them.”

Another winning photograph attracting attention at the event was taken by an Ivy Tech Community College visual communication student, Ashley Kuhn. She was one of the winners in the amateur category.

The entry, “Love Survives,” depicted Kuhn’s mother and grandmother hugging each other, showing a bond of love that survives adversity.

“’Love Survives’ is of my grandmother and my mother who have both battled breast cancer,” the photo description stated. “My grandmother wanted an image of the two of them that showed her full mastectomy, as well as my mother’s survivor tattoo.”

Although the photo shoot was planned, the shot was “accidental,” Kuhn said.  

“I wanted to capture the love and strength it took to be alive and together today,” Kuhn stated in the description.

Those who saw the photograph understood the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter.

“It’s phenomenal,” Allison Herzog, an attendee said, as she viewed the photograph.

The 17 photographs will be on display at the Health and Human Services Building (also known as the Arena) but will be available for installation at various sites in the Wabash Valley, said organizer Tina Kruger. The exhibit will be on display at Community Theatre of Terre Haute, 1431 S. 25th St., sometime in May, she said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or

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