In many ways, art is a great leveler of personal differences among those who create it. Along with other personal factors like gender and ethnicity, the age of an artist often has little or no impact on the pure, wordless first encounter between viewer and art. On the other hand, as artists we know that many aspects of our personal lives do affect the content of our work and how we go about making it. Today we are going to talk about some effects of aging on artists and their studio practices.
There are many benefits of creative activity for older people. Studies show increased morale and sense of purpose, and lower levels of depression and feelings of isolation in those who pursue forms of art as people age. Creativity contributes to problem solving skills and a sense of autonomy, and this helps older artists navigate everyday life in addition to creating art. Continuing to challenge ourselves into our older years keeps us sharp and involved in the larger world.
In preparing for this episode, we considered input that Rebecca requested from various artists in their 60s and older who have had long careers in art. Some of these artists expressed feelings of gratitude for what art has brought to their lives, and the perspective of being able to look back and see how events in their careers were connected and how they have led to growth and progress. Others noted a decline in stamina, but offset by increased focus and clarity about what they want to express, and a refining of earlier goals and expectations.
According to California abstract painter, Sara Post: "For me, aging has brought huge gifts—mostly in terms of freedom from—family care giving, work obligations but also freedom to pause to think more deeply about things, spend hours walking, and taking uninterrupted time in the studio—the freedom to indulge my curiosity about all sorts of things. In terms of my work itself, I no longer feel obliged to stick to a certain style, to reward the expectations of others or, really, to even give it a thought. Making artwork has steadily become a thing of the moment and of trying, faithfully, to record that."
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