With our Art and Wellness: Creative Aging exhibition the Phillips celebrates our ongoing collaboration with 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. In October, the Phillips opened Art and Wellness featuring over 60 artworks created as a part of the program.
Our colleagues at Iona created this video to celebrate the opening reception for the exhibition, which brought over 150 participants to the museum, including many artists and their families. One visitor shared, “Everyone has a gift and a story to tell. What an inspiring exhibit with so much more to come.” A family member stated, “In a society that often sets seniors aside, you tell them they make a contribution to us all. Through art, seniors can be seen anew and valued.” An artist featured in the exhibition said, “It is always a thrill to visit the Phillips and to have my work on display is an inordinate pleasure!”
National Poetry Month and the multitude of pithy one-liners we’ve received from our “What is Amelia Thinking” talkback station in the galleries have inspired me to create some free verse poetry. Using submissions from a recent weekend, I have cobbled together 8 entrants for this poetic homage to Amelia van Buren.
Thank you to two anonymous visitors, Steve from DC, Jake from DC, Vera from MD, Jim from MD, Lucy from NJ, Sue from PA, and Zobo from VA for the creativity!
Thomas Eakins, Miss Amelia Van Buren, c. 1891. Oil on canvas, 45 x 32 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1927
What is Amelia Thinking?
…Did I leave the stove on?
Why are you staring at me, I can own u!
How much longer is this painting going to take?
I really, really! would like to scratch my nose
God, I have to tinkle.
Why am I stuck in this portrait? When will I get OUT!
The Phillips is currently hosting the exhibition Art and Wellness: Creative Aging. The display features work from our program which encourages older adults (many of whom suffer from 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. It is part of an ongoing collaboration between The Phillips Collection and Iona Senior Services.
Through the program, we looked at John Frederick Peto’s Old Time Card Rack. Memories and personal mementos played an important role during a conversation about the painting. Members of the group first noticed the “well worn” and “very old” objects in the picture. One individual said he thought the artwork seemed to be about “memories of one time or another.”
The exploration continued in the art therapy studio at Iona. Members of the group created their own containers of memories, or memory boxes. Pictures and important objects were shared and discussed. One individual, Susan, used this process to reconnect with her mother. She made the work pictured below. She said, “I wanted to honor my mom because I miss her and love her dearly…. This is my tribute to her.”
(Left) John Frederick Peto, Old Time Card Rack, 1900. Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in. Acquired 1939. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. (Right) Susan Meyers, Momma—Earlier Days, 2013. Mixed Media.