Local seniors are being showcased in an exhibit now underway at the West Nebraska Arts Center. The exhibit, “Elder Art: Creative Aging Through the Arts Showcase,” highlights works from students ages 60 years old and older. The exhibition will be on display through July 31.
For several months, art students worked with artists Mary Hunt and Michelle Denton to create a variety of pieces through different mediums. Hunt worked with residences at The Residency and a group at the art center one time a month on Wednesday mornings. Some of the projects were sculptures, acrylic painting, design and salt dough ornaments.
“We have three different groups: one from The Residency, a group at the art center and Michelle Denton and I also do a group at the Lakota Lutheran Center, so it’s kind of a variety of projects,” Hunt said. “We did mosaics by cutting up pieces of magazines and that was one of my favorite projects because of the range of abilities.”
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Hunt provided a pattern for the projects and an example for the art students to reference, but from that point, they are free to take the project wherever they see fit. Within each class period, most of the projects could be wrapped up, although the artists could take the projects home to complete. The elder art exhibition features at least eight different projects completed within the calendar year.
The acrylic paint project canvas was a wine bottle. Hunt applied a primer to the bottles prior to the project, which allowed the paint to stick better. The variety of pieces that came out of that project was astounding, Hunt said.
WNAC, with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, made the showcase possible.
“It’s an experimental project that (the arts council) is doing,” Hunt said. “It’s called Creative Aging through the Arts program. They contacted us and asked if we would do the training. I had already been doing the elder art program here for a year and half, so it was interesting going through the training process.”
The program emphasizes the importance of socialization and creativity.
“Fortunately, we’ve worked with the arts council and received grants from them before, so they are really good to work with,” she said. “The people love the class. I think I’ve built up a list to about 30 people.”
The art center group attracts about a dozen people every month. The next class is July 27 from 10 a.m. to noon. People are encouraged to contact the art center to sign up. The age range is for people 65 years and older.
The last class at The Residency was last week, but the artists’ pieces are also included within the exhibition.
“You’re never too old to try something,” Hunt said. “I’ve got a 95-year-old woman who had previously done artistic things like portraits and drawings in her life, but hadn’t done anything for years. Now, she has a chance to do something creative again and she did some amazing things.”
The gallery exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
For more information about the show or to sign up for an elder art class, contact the art center at 308-632-2226.