Two visitors sharing a moment at the Phillips during our Creative Aging program. Photo: James R. Brantley
Everyone once in a while I see a photograph from one of our programs that stops me in my tracks. James R. Brantley recently took the image above during one of our Creative Aging programs with Iona. This program offers older adults (many of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s or related dementia), along with their families and caregivers, the opportunity to connect with each other through guided conversations about art at the Phillips. These individuals then continue processing their responses in the art therapy studio at Iona.
This photograph is a powerful reminder to me. It serves as a testament of how powerful art can be in creating shared and loving experiences.
Installation of Creative Aging exhibition at The George Washington University. Photos: Margaret Collerd.
Four years ago, a conversation with Lisa Garlock and Heidi Bardot from The George Washington University’s Art Therapy Program helped inform my thinking on a new initiative for the museum. They introduced me to Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center, and since then Iona has become a key partner in our programs for older adults. Given GWU’s role in the origins of the program, I was thrilled when Lisa proposed to install our Creative Aging exhibition at the art gallery on campus. So if you didn’t get a chance to catch the display here last fall, head over to the Alexandria Graduate Education Center where it is on view through late August.
Family members celebrating the work of an Iona artist. Photo: James R. Brantley
I’ve been working on the museum’s Creative Aging program for over a year now, and to celebrate the current exhibition, the Phillips hosted a reception this past weekend for friends, families, and artists whose work is on view.
Over 100 visitors attended the reception, and what resonated most for me was the sense of pride many of the artists and families felt about seeing the artworks on view. One artist stated, “Thank you everyone for celebrating with us our artwork. It gives encouragement to make other works of art.” Another family member said, “We are so moved by this beautiful exhibit and the wonderful work. Thank you!”
But, I think one my favorite remarks written in the comment book said, “In line color and spirit—imagination lives at all ages.” My colleague at Iona, art therapist Jackie McGeehan, made this video to encapsulate the energy, ideas, and process behind the display. Have a look, and let us know what you think!