Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC)

The most important attitude that can be formed is that of the desire to go on learning.
— John Dewey

Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) is a community arts engagement program that places artists-in-residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. Through the program, 50 artists will provide creative programming for seniors at 44 centers in 2013, presenting free public events displaying a diverse array of projects this spring and summer.  SPARC is collaboration among the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department for the Aging and five of the City’s local arts councils.  The program was developed in 2009 as part of the Mayor’s Age –Friendly NYC initiative, and is supported, in part, by funding from the Department for the Aging.

The curriculum that I call LIFE MAPS has grown out of my interest in understanding what it means to teach art to adults 55+.  I am interested in assessing the kinds of creative activities with which older adults may be engaged, so as to establish new possibilities for what growing old can mean in the context of art education. 

The artwork displayed in this exhibition titled, PROFILED! came to be as a result of the collaborative efforts of participants of the weekly LIFE MAP collage class and myself, Paul Ferrara—their instructor. 

The collages were created over several months and were based on weekly class assignments. In order to demonstrate the importance of composition, I decided to place a cut out silhouette of their profile over the existing work. Through this act, the objects and images that make up the collage take on a new meaning.  Framing their work in an innovative way added an unexpected layer of meaning to their collage.

This body of work is titled LIFE MAPS and can be thought of as “personal geographies.”

Maps are tools that help to guide and give direction, often to pre-selected destinations. Maps are subjective. LIFE MAPS can show us where we have been and where we may hope to go. In the months we spent together as a class, we examined the appearance of maps through the elements of design focusing on line, texture, point-of-view, and color. For this assignment, participants decided upon a theme by reflecting on a moment in their lives, past or present, by thinking of an individual who might have made a deep impact upon them, or by exploring an aspect of their personality. 

Within their profile, they were to map out their chosen topic and create a collage that expressed this theme