By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Art project to challenge idea of age

July 24, 2014 Ventura County Star

CAMARILLO, Calif. - Artists of all levels may submit a 12- by 12-inch image that celebrates their current age for "ReDefining Age: A Square Foot Art Show" presented by the Elder Care Alliance.

"There's no one-size-fits-all approach to aging. We can see that from the wave of the aging population who are redefining every aspect of the process," said Rachel Main of Elder Care Alliance, the nonprofit that oversees the AlmaVia of Camarillo retirement home.

This art project poses the question: How can we redefine age to be valued and celebrated and where every age is the best age to be?

"With this project, we are making a call to action to change the focus from generational labels ... like ‘baby boomer' or ‘Generation X' to a new cohort composed of different generations in which age is not a label or limit," said Main, Elder Care Alliance's regional life enrichment and memory-care director.

Carolyn Myers, life enrichment director at Alma Via of Camarillo, is encouraging residents to create art for the project. She also extended the invitation to staff members, their families and residents of Camarillo.

All art is welcome as long as it fits on a 12- by 12-inch canvas.

"It can be a painting, collage, photograph or just about any medium the artist wants to work in," said Main, who is based in Alameda.

The image may be representational or abstract and should reflect the artist's feelings and experience of being at his or her current age, she said.

"We want to learn thoughts on: What is wonderful about being 5? How does it feel to be 29? Why is 86 your best year yet?" Main said.

"ReDefining Age" was inspired by the desire to engage the community in an intergenerational art experience, said Erin Partridge, an art therapist and life enrichment coordinator at Mercy Retirement & Care Center in Oakland.

"The work will be hung in such a way that a 4-year-old's art may be next to a 94-year-old's work," Partridge said.

"It will encourage viewers to find the similarities rather than focus on differences. Our intent is to celebrate the creativity and expressive ability of all of us as humans rather than making distinctions between artists and nonartists, between children and adults."

Partridge added that in her work with seniors as an art therapist, she has found art to be an equalizing element.

"Differences in cognitive status, physical ability, wellness and educational level are not the primary focus when looking at the art," Partridge said. "A square-foot show is a further equalizer: We will all work within the same size to express something about ourselves and about our experiences."

The collective body of work will result in a panorama of canvases representing a new way to understand age as a personal experience rather than a demographic label, Main said.

The final piece will be exhibited Sept. 8 through Oct. 8 at the UC San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, Main said. Select works will be part of a gallery display Oct. 20-24 at the LeadingAge annual meeting and expo in Nashville, Tennessee.

The submission deadline is Aug. 1 at AlmaVia of Camarillo, 2500 N. Ponderosa Drive. Visit for guidelines.

The work is considered a donation and will not be returned. After the exhibits, all submitted artwork will be sold at auction in March. The proceeds will be used by the nonprofit Elder Care Alliance to provide art education and events at its retirement communities.

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