"Weaving Our Stories" Beautifully Blends Generations

 

This summer AFTA Teaching Artists Marcie Wolf-Hubbard (art) and Annetta Dexter Sawyer (dance, theatre) led four creative workshops with older adults and children aged 7-15 at Elizabeth House in Silver Spring, MD.  This was the third annual “Weaving Our Stories” program, a collaboration between AFTA and Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) of Montgomery County.  Elizabeth House provides subsidized housing for older adults, and the youth travelled from nearby Paddington Square Apartments.  At the beginning of each session, all ages spent time getting to know one another as they immersed themselves in theatre and movement games.

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Smiles and laughter filled the cafeteria. The time spent sharing in the circle flowed into art activities like portraiture and print-making designed to continue the “getting to know you” process.

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At the final session, seniors and children made books featuring artwork and photography from the entire series.  To them, the book is an important memory of new friendships they hope to continue through future visits.  The young participants wrote letters to their older friends thanking them for this meaningful experience.

“I had a great time making art with you all.  I have learned in these past weeks to share doing things I love with others.  These memories will be forever stored and locked in my heart.”  -  Roxana, youth participant

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Select photos by Stephanie Williams


AFTA Art Exhibition at Alexandria City Hall

Artwork by participants in teaching artist Carol Siegel’s program at Alexandria Adult Day Services Center (AADSC) was exhibited in the Vola Lawson lobby of Alexandria’s City Hall from June 8 to June 29.  A celebration of the exhibition took place in the City Hall lobby on Tuesday, June 21. Special guests included the artists from AADSC and their family members, AADSC staff members, AFTA trustees, and supporters of creative aging and the arts.

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Artist Barbara J. and her daughter pose with Barbara's collage "Architect's Dream".

We were honored to have Alexandria’s mayor Allison Silberberg give opening remarks. Mayor Silberberg underscored the value of the cooperation between AFTA and AADSC in making a difference in the lives of Alexandria residents who are aging. Speaking to the artists in attendance, the Mayor also expressed her gratitude for their contributions to art and the City.

Artist Karla K. with Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg.
Artist Karla K. with Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg.

Artist Karla K. said of the portraiture, “When Carol said we were going to do a study of self-portraits, we all moaned and groaned! I was scared to look that closely at the old person I'd become. But as we drew one after another, it became easier to see the beauty of aging. Art is a powerful expression of who we are, appreciating our lives and our loves.”

Marilynn D. with her self portrait.
Marilynn D. with her self portrait.

AFTA's partnership with AADSC spans almost two decades, and Siegel’s connection with the participants and staff at the center has strengthened into a deep bond. Participants feel comfortable sharing what is in their hearts within the safe space of the expressive arts group.  Says Judith M., “When Carol comes, I am very happy. This is the only place I have the opportunity to enjoy and express myself in art.” The exhibition included a series of self-portraits, and selections from AFTA’s Dream Ship collection, which showed at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery in Washington last winter.