Personal Arts Timeline Middle and Older Adulthood & Transitions to End of Life

The older adulthood life stage can bring about numerous changes. These can shape and define your own personal sense of identity. Many individuals become married, have children, and obtain employment with a steady job. Although I have not yet reached the older adulthood stage, I would anticipate these to be a phase of added responsibility. No longer would there just be myself to worry about, but the circle of care would be expanded to a spouse and children. It’s also really common within this stage to have a chronic or acute medical illness which can have tremendous impacts on your own perception of wellness. The creative arts are uniquely positioned to help with the aging individual (Cohen, 2006).

Many rituals including the marriage ceremony, and events following the birth of a child with religious ceremonies are steeped in the creative arts. These ceremonies have been a part of our culture for generations. I would anticipate having children to whom I would teach the creative arts, which would spur my involvement in the same, and be a large driving force into my active participation in the visual arts. It would also be the reason I would travel to see museums and to show my children the things that were important to me, and to help expand their own horizons. As such passive participation in the arts through visiting galleries would have a large portion of this life stage, with the children themselves being a large teacher for my own participation as well. It is unique to be around individuals as they begin to see and explore the world around them. It can be quite eye opening to see their viewpoints, which can be greatly entertaining, and enable them to be mentors for art training.

I have chosen to continue with the visual arts at this stage. I would hope to continue my own personal arts training though formal education and continued self-exploration. The visual arts have always been an art-form that speaks to my soul and would be something that I would like to continue into this stage as well. It may be difficult to balance the demands from work and personal life at this stage with the creative arts, but I recognize how the creative arts have become integral into my own self-care and hope to continue the process into this life stage. There are tremendous studies demonstrating the importance of self-care (Walsh et al, 2005).

I chose to create two pieces for this stage, the first was a mixed media utilizing sea glass to create a quilt on a clothesline, and the second being a water coloring of a sailboat. As stated in my previous postings, the ocean has always had a tremendous pull for me personally, and it would be something that I would want to share with my loved ones. Reflecting back on my aunt who always took me to the beach and we created interesting pieces together was something that inspired the quilt piece as it would have been something that we found together on the beach! This would be a process that I would want to continue with my family. Much like the Center for Digital Storytelling website, my personal story and how my aunt influenced my life could be handed down to my loved ones.

Watercolor
Sea Glass Quilt

My rational for completing this master program was actually to work with my end of life patients specifically around legacy projects. As such the end of life transition phase is particularly interesting for me, although I have not reached this stage. Crafting something that will last past your own terminal illness is of tantamount importance to most people. This can be confirmed even by Cindy Chang as she discusses trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one (Chang, 2012). There are several great research projects that confirm the same as well, including individuals dealing with HIV/Aids who complete dolls to tell their story (Lewis & Gerus-Darbison, 2014). I also find it personally important to leave things behind for other individuals which is the rational for my creative artwork this week.

Specifically I was thinking about a few of my friends when I was creating this artwork. For one individual I crafted a fingerprint jewelry piece that can be used as a charm for a necklace, or a keychain. I also developed these pom-poms which I saw many individuals in Mexico using on their bags. This provided inspiration for my own creation, which would have been gifted to my friends.

My Fingerprint Jewelry
My Pom-Pom Gifts

The physical abilities of individuals at this stage can impact the ability to create art, particular when confronted with a terminal illness. The window to create can rapidly close. I would enjoy continuing the visual arts for as long as I could. The greatest teachers and mentors would be to create for the loved ones that I am leaving behind. Milestones that are important would be surrounding death and dying and the funeral rituals which are creative art practices in themselves. We are always surrounded by the creative arts.

The legacy projects are particularly important, and have tremendous sentimental importance for the individual who receives this as a gift. Referencing how we started this course, we discussed the ecological model for development as shaping the developing mind, but I believe that this approach can be expanded to any stage as the more spheres we grow and encounter, the more we are shaped by each and this is certainly true at the end of life, as what we value and who we become is a result of the spheres we encounter along the way (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).

Credits:

Created with images by jcheng - "Noah's hand"

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