“Being next to someone gives you ideas and [helps you learn] how to do things, like rolling ink or carving. Everybody is very encouraging with each other.” —Create+Collaborate participant
By 2030, there will be an estimated 10.9 million Californians over the age of 60. Research indicates that older adults can often experience feelings of loneliness, uselessness, and diminished self-confidence, due in part to physical and cognitive changes inherent in the aging process, as well as societal perceptions that tend to disregard their contributions. Even events that we look forward to, such as a long anticipated and relaxing retirement, can result in unexpected depression due to decreased sense of control or purpose. Likewise, parents who are excited for their children to lead more independent lives can suddenly be confronted with a new family dynamic that gives them a sense of loss rather than freedom.
These issues are often left to doctors or social service agencies to address, however, museums of all kinds are well poised to support the social, emotional, and creative needs of older adults through education programs that actively engage in hands-on learning. In LACMA’s long history of offering art-making classes for all ages, we have witnessed the transformative power of the creative process in fostering community and igniting passion, purpose, and curiosity. With the support of Aroha Philanthropies, the museum joined a nationwide initiative to increase arts accessibility for folks who haven’t considered museums as a resource for them, and designed the program Create+Collaborate.
Now entering its third year, Create+Collaborate is a free 10-session printmaking class designed for members of the baby boomer generation and older to learn new skills and join a community of peers who also share this interest. The design of the program supports the participants’ discovery of the museum as a place of inspiration, intellectual stimulation, personal reflection, and social engagement. Each 10-session class culminates with a display of student work and a reception that allows friends and family to see the accomplishments of all the participants and brings a sense of pride and belonging to the students. Said one former participant, “My family was glad I took the class. They like me to do stuff. Even my grandkids are glad. I didn’t think I’d make anything worth looking at. I surprised myself.”
A key component of Create+Collaborate is the cooperative learning model. The underlying principle is that participants have as much to contribute to the class as they do to absorb, and so consequently will inhabit the roles of both student and teacher at various points throughout the sessions. Case in point, one participant shared, “We always forget what we have done [the day before], so the friend next to me always helps me, and we talk and we remember together.”
Over the past two years we have partnered with St. Barnabas Senior Services, Jewish Family Services, Angelus Plaza, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center to recruit students for Create+Collaborate. We are currently seeking participants for upcoming fall, winter, and spring sessions. If your organization is interested in participating, or has questions about Create+Collaborate, please fill out this form.
“[I learned that] everything is possible. Age is unimportant. You can always learn. Now that I have time, I have time to create.” —Create+Collaborate participant
The next Create+Collaborate class will begin at LACMA on October 17.