Silver Singers Perform at Chinese New Year Celebration

AFTA’s Silver Singers, a movement and music ensemble comprised of older adults from the Family Matters Asian Senior Center in Washington, D.C., performed for their center’s annual Chinese New Year celebration.

DSC_0038-(2)

The group, lead by AFTA Teaching Artist Anthony Hyatt, is frequently invited to perform at special events.  Most recently they sang at the mayor’s Annual Senior Holiday Celebration at the D.C. Armory.

At the Chinese New Year celebration, the Silver Singers performed two songs: “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music, which they had carefully prepared in English, and “Gong Xi, Gong Xi”, a traditional Chinese folk song celebrating the new year.  They closed with a group dance accompanied by Hyatt on the fiddle.

DSC_0042 DSC_0049

Anthony and AFTA Director Janine Tursini were invited to “feed the dragon” for luck in the new year.

DSC_0070

We hope this new year brings the Silver Singers continued joy, music and friendship, and we thank the Family Matters Asian Senior Center for inviting AFTA to join this special celebration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIh64RNOKoQ


Voices Far and Wide: Stories from our Teaching Artists

Anthony Hyatt, Songs of Our Lives

The Support Center – Rockville, MD

After we all sang “Auld Lang Syne,” I played “What Are You Doing On New Year’s Eve?”  One gentleman came up to join me in singing.  It turned out that he has a beautiful voice.  I thanked him and he replied, “I’ll bring it next time!”

DSC_0041


Joan Hampton Fraser, Creative Writing

Lewinsville Adult Day Health Care Center – McLean, VA

Today John’s writing was filled with personal meaning.  He had a recent fall and he wanted to talk about it.  He used imagery from the reading for the day to access the turmoil and losses he has been experiencing and he identified his family as a source of strength.  He laughed easily with tears in his eyes when one group member offered that perhaps “bump on the head” had helped him open up.  The group rallied around him, offering him support and understanding.  The conversations between group members began to flow. It was a beautiful and poignant moment.


Peter Burroughs, CoOPERAtion

Long Branch Community Center – Silver Spring, MD

The group took quickly to the idea of telling the story from “Carmen”.  Fernando played Escamillo and Maria played Carmen.  Other participants sang, danced and marched to music from the opera.  Maria played castanets, improvising as the story was told, and Fernando used the cape to help create his character.

DSC_0126


Carol Siegel, Expressive Arts

Alexandria Adult Day Services Center – Alexandria, VA

In our session we made old fashioned Valentines. One woman was fairly new to the group and had been recently widowed. She hadn’t shared her feelings with the others. When we made the Valentines, she cut one heart in half and glued it onto a whole heart, staing “This is my heart that  has been broken”.  It was a breakthrough for her in sharing her loss with the group.


Marcie Wolf Hubbard, The Shape of Things

The Kensington Club – Rockville, MD

One participant was very excited about a postcard with an image of a Native American.  She shared with the group that it reminded her of her career with the Department of Health and Human Services.  She talked about the Native American children and how they needed the support and recalled how she convinced her office that it was necessary to provide assistance to them.  We all learned something new about a member of our group that day.

DSC_0014


Nancy Havlik, Quicksilver

Chevy Chase Community Center – Washington, D.C.

Teaching Artist Anthony Hyatt played “Tennessee Waltz” in honor of Patti Page who passed away this week.  The group developed a beautiful dance in tribute by using the improvisation skills we’d worked on.  It happened like magic.  All of a sudden a story of tribute appeared with Dancer Dorothy Levy leaving the stage as the song ended.


Miles Spicer,  Dance and Blues

Downtown Clusters Geriatric Day Care – Washington, D.C.

This session was special.   Teaching Artist Nancy Havlik and I agreed to work around a couple of songs by Thomas Fats Waller.  I played “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”   Nancy encouraged group member Howard to play some piano for us.  He played “Amazing Grace” with me.  Nancy got the group into a movement exercise, but one of our female participants started in with “Glory, Glory, When I Lay My Burden Down.” This spiritual has a heavy call and response part.  All the seniors joined in.   Nancy and I traded glances and we silently agreed to let them lead us.  I played along on guitar.   The group followed with “Wade in the Water” and soon it was time to go.    We walked around the circle shaking hands and thanking our seniors.  They were still singing.    They were still singing as we walked out, all smiles.  In the years that we have been working with this group we have never been serenaded as the program ended.

Program-Visits-May-June-2011-040


Meet Moon Watcher

In partnership with Iona Senior Services and the Corcoran College of Art + Design’s ASID Student Chapter, AFTA designated one of its many programs for seniors to participate in designing a Modern Classic plastic molded chair to celebrate a competition which was sponsored by Herman Miller and American Office.

afta-8 afta-9

In January, AFTA conducted a series of three workshops with older adults attending Iona Wellness & Arts Center in Washington, D.C.  Students from ASID — Whitney Osterhout, Kristen Wong and Meghan O’Malley– assisted Teaching Artist Carol Siegel in leading the workshops. The participants collaboratively turned the chair into a work of art.

afta-7

They drew inspiration from Billy Collins’ poem, “The Chairs That No One Sits In,” the philosophies of mid-20th century designers Charles and Ray Eames, and through discussion of the furniture, people and places that had personally provided them with comfort over the years.

afta-4 afta-3

One participant shared a story about a rocking chair built by his grandfather sitting on a large, wrap-around porch. As a child, he enjoyed sitting in this chair to read. Sometimes when the wind blew, the chair would move by itself and he would talk have conversations with the chair as if it were a living person.

afta-1

Each individual created a round collage using materials that featured circular designs, representing the unity, wholeness and the circular nature of life.  Teaching Artist Siegel says, “The circle represents comfort (the chair) as a container to hold their art making. It is a safe space for the group to connect as they work within a circle of friends.” The collages, along with words and phrases from their discussions, were applied to the chair which they fondly named “Moon Watcher” for its pale appearance and skyward tilt.

Thank you to our group members at Iona for sharing your stories and talent and to center staff Sharon O’Conner, Sarah Grogan and Jackie McGeehan for helping bring “Moon Walker” to life.

afta-2

THE CHAIRS THAT NO ONE SITS IN

Billy Collins

You see them on porches and on lawns

down by the lakeside,

usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there and look out

at the water or the big shade trees.

The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs

though at one time it must have seemed

a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table

between the chairs where no one

is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,

but it might be a good idea one day

for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them

for the sake of remembering

whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs

side by side with a table in between.

The clouds are high and massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.

The man takes a sip of his drink.

Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird

then another, cries of joy or warning—

it passes the time to wonder which.

afta-5

Program Photography: Gene Carl Feldman and Emily Wathen


"Upcycled" Art at the Kensington Club (Rockville, MD)

AFTA Teaching Artist Marcie Wolf Hubbard led older adults at the Kensington Club in a series of hands-on art workshops and we are excited to share the artwork they created.

Much to the delight of the participants, Marcie arrived at each session with bags of found objects – vintage postcards, scraps of paper, pieces of costume jewelry, and a few items best termed as “unidentifiable”.   Marcie frequently uses found materials in her own artwork, and admits she is known for collecting items others would consider throw-away.

Participants used bits of paper and other odds and ends to make abstract geometric collages.  The members of the Kensington Club have rich life experiences that show in their artwork.

A PARTICIPANT WHO LEARNED JAPANESE IN WORLD WAR II INCLUDES JAPANESE CHARACTERS IN HIS COLLAGE.
A PARTICIPANT WHO LEARNED JAPANESE IN WORLD WAR II INCLUDES JAPANESE CHARACTERS IN HIS COLLAGE.
A RETIRED SCIENTIST CREATES HIS COLLAGE OUT OF BITS OF MOLECULAR STRUCTURES.

They combed through piles of vintage postcards and used their imaginations to expand the images beyond the edges of the card.

THE IMAGE ON THE POSTCARD GROWS TO CREATE A NEW WORLD.
THE IMAGE ON THE POSTCARD GROWS TO CREATE A NEW WORLD.
TRUDY CALLED THIS PIECE “HEY GOOD LOOKIN’, WHATCHA GOT COOKIN’?” IN HONOR OF A PHRASE HER LATE HUSBAND OFTEN SAID TO HER.
TRUDY CALLED THIS PIECE “HEY GOOD LOOKIN’, WHATCHA GOT COOKIN’?” IN HONOR OF A PHRASE HER LATE HUSBAND OFTEN SAID TO HER.

Memory boxes using found objects.

A TINY BOX HOLDS A LARGE WORLD.
A TINY BOX HOLDS A LARGE WORLD.

Our participants at the Kensington Club can’t wait to have Marcie back — and we’re eager to see what they make next time!