I recently had the honor to sit down with Dr. Jane Chu, the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Dr. Chu was invited by the National Center for Creative Aging to visit the Phillips’s partner Iona Senior Services. She wanted to witness creative aging programs in action! During her site visit, we discussed the Phillips’s ongoing museum-education and art therapy partnership with Iona and the program’s positive impact on participants and their families. Her visit to Iona was timely–the NEA Arts Magazine‘s most recent issue highlights the innovative ways that organizations are using art as an instrument of healing.
As a part of our Nordic Cultural Initiative, the Phillips recently hosted our first Nordic Wonderland family program in collaboration with the embassies of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Over 120 guests created art activities from Denmark and Norway, experienced storytelling from Iceland, viewed a Moomin cartoon from Finland, and watched a St. Lucia parade from Sweden.
During the program, we debuted our new Winter Warm Up “Art-Venture.” The digital scavenger hunt is a fun way to navigate the Phillips. You can play with your family, friends, or even by yourself! The Winter Warm Up “Art-Venture” is available to visitors all season long and can be accessed using your mobile device, or you can access it here: http://edventurebuilder.com/phillips/winter.
One family described the “art-venture,” saying “The questions were good ones and a great way to learn about art and the museum.” Another said, “The event was wonderful… For the older kids, the scavenger hunt was really fun!”
The Phillips is currently hosting the exhibition Art and Wellness: Creative Aging. The display features work from an ongoing collaboration between The Phillips Collection and Iona Senior Services. The program encourages older adults (many of whom suffer from chronic illness, including Alzheimer’s or related dementia), along with their families and caregivers, to make connections and access personal experiences and long-term memories through gallery conversations and hands-on art therapy.
Participants in the program looked at Augustus Vincent Tack’s Aspiration together. Members of the group saw movement, landscape, and weather in Aspiration. One individual described the painting, saying, “It’s almost like several storms are taking place at the same time—and some of it is water stirred up, the clouds stirred up. With the yellow you see some sunshine.” Another also saw rain in the painting and was struck by its motion. A different group member imagined hearing “water” and “splashing” as she looked at Aspiration.
Bringing the words motion, water, and storms into the art therapy studio, individuals were encouraged to develop movement in their artwork. Crumpling paper to create grooves, group members spread paint on top of the textured paper. They incorporated detail and form by adding pastel and pencil markings on top of the paint. This playful process inspired and excited group members, helping to foster an understanding of how texture can impact composition and mood.