Emerging womanhood carries heavy weight of meaning. It encompasses all the invisible changes that turn a child into an adult - anyone, man or woman, has some kind of experience (though maybe not understanding) of girls in that ambiguous age. It includes the visible transformation into adulthood, too, a change that doesn't happen overnight. The conversion begins and end in surprisingly few years, so all of the steps between compress into that brief moment of a woman's life.
Small wonder that so many artists find inspiration in that magical and maddening moment, or that they subdivide it so finely into so many grades of maturation. David Hamilton has devoted his artistic life to an earlier stage. Others, Gilbert included, find themselves fascinated with phases closer to adulthood. This collection of lush black and white photos tries to capture the instant at which young adulthood takes over from childhood. There is no such instant, of course, but that's no reason to stop trying.
Whenever models appear undressed, erotic overtones exist - and in different amounts for different viewers. Gilbert does a creditable job of presenting the young ladies in their native beauty, neither adding fetishisic props nor hiding their physical details. I imagine many responses to this collection of photos, from sanctimonious revulsion to unhealthy fascination. That is not Gilbert's problem, or the models'; it is that viewer's. The fact remains, this moment arises as every woman grows up, and deserves to be documented as much as any other. Gilbert presents it in these beautiful and sensitive photos.