Every Wednesday morning, Linda Ross makes her way from her home south of downtown Orlando up to Maitland. And every Wednesday afternoon she heads back home having learned something new, her hands often caked in paint, ink or paste.
Since October, Ross has taken classes at the Maitland Art Center geared toward helping seniors, such as herself, unleash their inner artists. The Creative Arts for Life courses are organized by Performing Arts of Maitland under the group’s PAM Cares program. For years, PAM Cares has brought the performing arts – in the form of mini concerts – to seniors residing in assisted living facilities, but this year for the first time the program is offering courses to get active seniors creating art themselves.
June Flowers, executive director of the Performing Arts of Maitland, said her organization started the program to get local seniors involved in the arts by getting out and socializing together while learning new skill sets.
“This is for the folks that always wanted to do something in the arts, but never got around to it,” Flowers said. “…It gives them an outlet, both creatively and socially.”
According to a 2006 study done by the National Endowment for the Arts titled, “The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults,” research shows that participating in community-based art programs results in positive life benefits for seniors. Those benefits included fewer doctor visits, less prescription medication usage, and fewer falls for those participating in art programs compared to seniors not involved.
“…These community-based cultural programs for older adults appear to be reducing risk factors that drive the need for long-term care,” reads the report’s conclusion.
Every week when Ross settles in to her classroom at the Maitland Art Center, paintbrush in hand, she said she’s ready and waiting to make not only art, but an investment in her future.
“It keeps my brain functioning and gives me something to look forward to,” she said. “… I like to keep my brain active and learning new things.”
Creative Arts for Life participants will host an art show on Dec. 16 to showcase the work they have created during their eight week session. The show will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Maitland Art Center’s Germaine Marvel Building. Contact Denese Richmond for more information at 407-766-1860.
One week she and the nine other ladies registered in the class painted a waterscape in the theme of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies,” and another week they cut and pasted paper shapes to canvas creating a textured collage.
“It’s beautiful,” Ross said. “I walk around the room and I get inspiration and see how everyone has done a little something extra to make their work their own.”
Denese Richmond, the director of Creative Arts for Life, said it’s been really special for her to sit in and participate in the classes and see her classmates thriving and creating, both artistically and socially.
“They’re really having a great time,” Richmond said. “And it’s really kind of wonderful to see what’s being produced … it’s kind of amazing to see what’s happening out of that class.”
Ross said she always looks forward to the weekly class for the nurturing atmosphere it provides for both creating art and friendships.
“As you get older you can use all the friends you can get,” she said with a laugh.
The classes for this Creative Arts for Life session are taught by the Art & History Museums – Maitland’s artist-in-action Martha Lent, and will culminate with an art show of the participants work created over the eight-week program on Dec. 16 at the Maitland Art Center’s Germaine Marvel Building.
Flowers said the next Creative Arts for Life sessions will focus on music and dance, the next session likely starting in February.
Ross said though she’s not too keen on her musical abilities, she looking forward to signing up for more Creative Arts for Life classes in the future.
“If you’ve got something good to offer we will come,” she said. “And I can’t say enough good things about this class.”