Tuesday, July 11, 2017


I was very lax in continuing the blogposts, as I was struggling to juggle all my programs and partnerships. Here, I will make a final one here to celebrate the end of the program, and show off some of the pics from before. 


Patricia, the site director was always very pleasant. She was juggling a lot of events and classes. She had contractors teaching other art classes as well as Tai Chi and Computer class, as well as the popular afternoon bingo sessions.  When we first met, she was a little leery of my program since it didn't seem to fit a traditional senior art class, but was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the elders took to the variety of subjects and projects.
At the beginning, we had agreed on a schedule, but weeks later, after the ad cards were printed, she found that she needed to change my program hours to accommodate her longtime contract teaching artists and the bingo schedule.  Of course I was not too happy about this, since I had juggled my own teaching schedule and meticulously printed cards for the center. I could not do another set because I would go over budget. I was also nervous about class attendance since I had observed that most of the seniors came for long and stayed afterwards. I was pleasantly surprised that the seniors spread their thoughts on my class and quickly developed a regular following of early seniors.
We also changed the space. Patricia wanted me to be in the cafeteria to fold in arriving seniors. Again, not having the art room as a regular space made me worried, since the cafeteria was so large and the tables so spread out... but I quickly adapted to setting up the projects and introducing folks to the projects in waves.  This also helped me adapt to different personality types, and how to approach them.  Soon the cafeteria became my preferred teaching space as I could juggle different islands of people at different times and produce some interesting results. 
I had plenty of help from Giselle, the director's assistant. who would set up my laptop and project early in the day.  She also had great insight into methods of approaching different people.
The center was also very accommodating of my travel schedule as I attended and presented at several conferences this Spring. Luckily the seniors never lost their place in the projects and always picked up from where they left off.
The Center was on point with scheduling the trip to the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and used their van (which could fit 9 seniors) for transport. It was a lovel day as they enjoyed the museum's galleries and got to do an outside art exercise.
Early in June, I realized that I had done more hours than originally planned.  Typically, an art session lasted 2 to 2.5 hours, and I already done more than 60 hours. The seniors, sad to see me go, discussed taking a collection to have me come in the Summer time.  I promised them two more Monday sessions as part of the program so we could do a final art project and prepare them for the show.  I was genuinely sad to stop working there. 

PROJECT: ARTOPIA’s dynamics changed quickly. I intended to separate each class in different components of the program design (i.e. Filmlandia, TVlandia) but realized that the flow between projects was more natural and was really guided by the seniors’ interests and abilities. I managed to do a multi-media approach and blend in film, tv, history and even mythology in a more holistic approach. While the projects themselves kept to a theme, much of the multi-media ended up spurring ideas in the art work. They were provided with their own sketchbooks and idea journals to work in class and at home.
I tweaked the themes to include memory projects (including ‘their favorite dress, best monsters and heroes, and best moments of certain times in their lives) as well as themes inspired by different decades especially including the fantastical images of their childhood stories and playtime.
After introducing them to my own work and asking them for help and tolerance of my style, they seemed very warm and willing to try new things. e. 
So I began with CARTOONIA, a look at animation and cartoons from their generations, including Betty Boop and Popeye, and had them design characters that fit into that cherished art-style.  Afterwards we did a bit of FILMLANDIA, where they looked at the icons of the Golden age of Hollywood. They informed me of who their favorite actors were, and I would show them and lead them in sketching designs and hairstyles of designing clothing or hairstyles for them while using acetate layers and studio photos.
Another project was having them recreate a happy day of their childhood with collage and paper cut outs. They also repeated this task with a life journal where they could illustrate and write about the best days of their teens.
One class involved creating happy images on ‘get well’ cards and delivering them to the Children’s unit at Montefiore.
One class included blank vinyl dolls that they could turn into their favorite magical characters with markers and paints. This worked well with images and videos of fantasy films of the 40s and 50s.
We talked about civil rights and the olden days when segregation was the norm and showed them films (i.e Patch of Blue, Imitation of Life). They would do art based on the themes they discussed. I showed them Kung Fu film from the old days of the Bronx theaters, and they did watercolors based on the colorful imagery. During one 70s themed week, they were taught how to create proper Graffiti art using 'Words of power’. I showed them female icons of television and had them break down the stereotypes and sexism in the way they were presented in variety shows and comedies. The discussions while we did the art was always lively.
I made sure they were xposed to many different art materials (i.e. charcoal, markers, china markers, pastels, paints, inks) and was sure to demo each one.  They soon found their favorite media and would request projects with them. Some classes would have seniors working with different media, but on the same theme.
Every few weeks, the programs would end with trivia questions related to theme and small prizes. They also enjoyed doing abstract art in collage and painting, using color and form to recreate feelings and good memories. All in all we were very busy and produced an astounding amount of art.
For the few seniors that sometimes felt a little overwhelmed by the projects (a few needed longer times and smaller tasks because of vision and dexterity issues), smaller projects like coloring books were provided, which they could pull out at any time. A few seniors requested homework or more advanced projects and they were provided with more sketchbooks and sculpting projects to work on at home.
I took a smaller group to an outing at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, where they had a studio tour complete with an art project, which they enjoyed very much.
For the final show, the seniors took pride in the amount and quality of their work. The room was just packed with art. I also had a guitar player come and lead them in a singalong, something they had requested for a while. Music was always inspirational.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Monday, March 29, SUCASA

At Annunciata, I gave them linen postcards, white paper, markers, colored pencils, and taught them a graffiti class. It was fun. Was troubled to learn that my popular table was filled with Trump voters. Made me see them in a new light. Will be very careful not to say anything that might offend them.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

3/23/17 SUCASA annunciata

The seniors were so sweet today. I wanted to start them out with designing clay figures, but their skill level and attention spans are so disparate, that I went with soem doing the acetate layover drawings and cards, and other I started on designing and shaping models out of clay. One woman wanted to paint the figures right away, and used markers.

What I found very sweet was how deeply they got into the Dean Martin Variety show episodes I projected onto the wall. They all lit up with memories and nostalgia. I think I'll try to bring more of those dvds in.

I spoke to the boss about having to do different days in the next couple of weeks (due to pre-scheduled work).  We'll discuss it more on Monday.

Friday, March 17, 2017

3/16/17 Sucasa Annunciata center

It was a low attendance day due to Tuesday's blizzard and no access to the van. Still, we did some more drawings using the acetate sheets, china markers, regular watercolor markers and some model sheets. I served about about 9 seniors today.

Next week I will try light sculpture with them. I'm going to play classic hollywood horror film clips and ask them to make chibi-style sculpture using sculpey and their own designs.

Monday, March 13, 2017


A Sr. Anunciata from 10:30 to 12:30. 2 hours today.

They had the room decked out for a St. Patrick's day party. Most of the folks are local whites who are very happy about the holiday, so it was very nice to see them so pleased and excited. I didn't know if I would be able to do my class with the seniors, but I ended up doing a short project with them as they waited for the festivisties to start (which was almost 12:30).

I printed out headshots of classic Hollywood Starlets, and had them trace them with china markers onto acetate squares. Then they would flip it and colored the back. After the proper coloring and the choosing of a nice pattern for the backing, they had a nice image in a card that they could call their won. It was pretty fun.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thursday, 3/9/17, 10am to 12:45

Did the class at Annunciata. I noticed a lot of the dynamics of the seniors who go there. Its a little bit like High school, and there's the top bosses (mean girl) who are the popular seniors. They know each other for years, and they come early to get the best tables. I'm a little disheartened that there isn't more diversity at this center. It's about 80 percent white, and the rest tend to hang at the edges of the center. I hope I can find a way to increase the numbers of seniors of color.

I showed the musicals and asked them questions about life back in their day, especially about fashion and attitudes towards women in the workplace. We did action drawing, and I modeled the way to see the figure in motion and do a quick line sketch. This was more of an exercise, and most of the senior had fun. I showed the famous musical numbers from the 50s and 60s as the examples to draw.

Next week, I want to find something that they can finish relatively quickly so they can feel some accomplishment as well. Maybe focus on famous women of film, and have them do cameos.

I can also start with an icebreaker. Simple tiny collages, maybe?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Monday, 2/6/17; 10 - 12:45

2/6/17 Did more drawing. Had new students today. They still want me to g=do stuff upstairs. Have to switch the project now, since they have done more than enough with the cartoon figures and pop up cards.

I plan to switch to showing them scenes from their era's musicals, and asking them to draw the figure in motion. Just practice some more to get them to follow the line of the body and motion. Different colored pencils?  Silhouettes in different colors? Maybe cut them afterwards to paste on an interesting background? I want to give them enough practice to then move onto something in 3d next week...

We had a couple of students who were suffering from a bit of dementia. The project was simple enough for them , but I'd like to give them something they can do without thinking too much.
There are a few students that are really into the drawing aspects of the programs. I'v also noticed that these students were exclusively people of color (asian, south asian, latino).  I will make efforts to bring media that celebrates their diversity.