Local seniors are featured in an exhibit now on at the Western Nebraska Arts Center. The Art of the Elderly: Creative Aging Through the Art Showcase exhibition highlights works by students over the age of 60. The exhibition will be exhibited until July 31.
Over the course of several months, art students worked with artists Mary Hunt and Michelle Denton to create a variety of works through a variety of mediums. Hunt worked with residencies at The Residency and a group at the art center once a month on Wednesday mornings. Some of the projects were sculptures, acrylic painting, designs 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 made mosaics by cutting up pieces of magazines and it was one of my favorite projects because of the range of abilities.”
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Hunt provided a template for the projects and an example for the art students to reference, but from that point on, they were free to take the project wherever they saw fit. Within each term, most of the projects can be completed, although artists can take the projects home to finish. The older art exhibit includes at least eight different projects completed within the calendar year.
The acrylic paint project canvas was a wine bottle. Hunt primed the bottles before the project, which allowed the paint to adhere better. The variety of works that came out of this project was astounding, Hunt said.
WNAC, with support from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Fund, made the presentation possible.
“This is an experimental project that (the arts council) is doing,” Hunt said. “It’s called the Creative Aging through the Arts program. They contacted us and asked if we would do the training. I’ve already done the senior arts program here for a year and a half, so it was interesting to go through the learning process.’
The program emphasizes the importance of socialization and creativity.
“Luckily we’ve worked with the arts council and received grants from them before, so they’re really good to work with,” she said. “People love class. I think I’ve compiled a list of about 30 people.
The art center group attracts about a dozen people each month. The next class is on July 27 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. People are encouraged to contact the art center to sign up. The age range is for people over 65 years old.
The last class at The Residency was last week, but the artists’ works are also included in the exhibition.
“You’re never too old to try something,” Hunt said. “I have a 95-year-old woman who used to do artistic things like portraits and drawings in her life, but hasn’t done anything for years. Now she has a chance to do something creative again and she has done some amazing things.
The gallery exhibition 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 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about the show or to sign up for an art class for seniors, contact the art center at 308-632-2226.