Creative Aging: A Magic Place

Creative Aging is a centerpiece of The Phillips Collection’s art and wellness initiatives, reflecting founder Duncan Phillips’s belief in the profound and positive impact that art can have on our well-being. This exhibition celebrates older adults engaging in the creative process of looking at art, discussing art, and making art. Creative Aging at the Phillips began in 2011 with one partner, Iona Senior Services in Northwest DC. In 2018, the museum expanded its partnerships to include Arts for the Aging (AFTA), throughout the DC­-metropolitan area, and Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center in Southeast DC, near Phillips@THEARC.

Creative Aging is a multi-visit program of mindful looking, informal discussion, and expressive creation. During conversations and art making with Phillips educators and our partners, older adults delve into works of art, sharing ideas, identifying feelings, and forging connections with one another. Each organization brings a distinct perspective to the co-created programs: AFTA’s multi-disciplinary arts integration, Iona’s in-depth art therapy, and Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center’s community connections. The three partnerships offer older adults a vibrant, layered experience that enhances wellness through the arts.

Come visit the Phillips’s Creative Aging exhibition, on view in the Sant Building, Lower Level 2, through February 2, 2019.

A Magic Place: Iona artists compared the empty house in Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series to Beverly Buchanan’s shack sculptures (on view in the exhibition The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement), imagining them filled with life. They shared stories of homes they lived in, loved, and left. In the Iona studio, the artists collected and arranged an assortment of materials, constructing an “art house” with room for all. Judith named it A Magic Place.

Artwork by Beverly Buchanan and Jacob Lawrence in the Phillips’s galleries; Iona participants creating artwork; Visitors to the Iona reception enjoying “A Magic Place” created by the Iona participants in response to Buchanan and Lawrence

Our Dreams: Participants from Alexandria Adult Day Services Center first visited the Phillips in spring 2018 to see Ten Americans: After Paul Klee. Intrigued by Klee’s artistic experimentation, they began to explore materials and techniques, beginning a collaborative mural on burlap with Sharpie. A few months later they returned to the Phillips to see Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia. Interested in the patterns applied on a variety of surfaces, they continued to work on their mural, incorporating symbols inspired by the artworks. During their next visit to the Phillips, they discovered the work of Zilia Sánchez, finding kinship with the 93-year-old artist, whose map-like marks deepened their discussions and visual expressions.

Photo of artwork created by participants from Alexandria Adult Day Services Center

Artwork created by participants from Alexandria Adult Day Services Center

A CreativiTEA participant shows his artwork inspired by the artwork of Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence in the Phillips’s collection

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