Creative Aging at Rouses Point Dodge Memorial Library

Artists pose with their work at Rouses Point (N.Y.) Dodge Memorial Library.

Editor’s note: Lifetime Arts created Creative Aging in Our Communities: The Public Library Project to unite teaching artists and librarians in the delivery of transformative arts programs for older adults. This programming spans all artistic disciplines and includes learning opportunities led by professional artists. Over the past four years, Lifetime Arts has been helping libraries in the New York metropolitan area develop the capacity to do this programming. Partners include the Westchester Library System, the New York Public Library, and the Brooklyn Public Library. In addition, a recent National Leadership grant to the Westchester Library System through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded a regional expansion of the project. Below, Donna Boumil, library director at Rouses Point (N.Y.) Dodge Memorial Library shares her experience with the program.

The workshop, Painting a Landscape in Pastels, was an eight-week workshop taught by artist Connie Cassevaugh. The initial reaction of the student artists was that of being overwhelmed and afraid. As a matter of fact, one participant was ready to quit the workshop during the first class. The teaching artist and I talked her into staying and trying the next class. She finished the workshop and produced a beautiful painting.

Throughout the workshop the student artists gained confidence, motivation, and great enthusiasm toward this art medium. There was a tremendous amount of conversation and encouragement from the student artists and teaching artist. The student artists could not wait to show me their progress and product at the end of each class. There were a few of the student artists who researched this art medium through the internet and books to further educate themselves.

As the last class approached, and the student artists readied their paintings for the Art Show/Reception, nerves began to show. Those dreaded emotions of fear and being overwhelmed crept up. Once the student artists began framing, matting, and pricing their art, the fear evaporated. Enthusiasm again rose as invitations were being written for the event.

The Art Show/Reception was a huge success. More than fifty people attended and enjoyed the beautiful artwork and the company of the artists. The student artists beamed with pride and satisfaction. As a result of the Art Show/Reception, twenty-five people have signed up for art workshops. Some of the student artists painted works of art to sell at local craft fairs.

Overall, this program was a tremendous success. The amount of hours involved in the grant writing, program preparation, program time, and show was significant, but miniscule compared to the reaction and result shown by the student artists. A worthwhile program!