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MSU's Senior Art Exhibition

As we look at aging in the Ozarks on "Sense of Community," Randy Stewart looks in on the Missouri State University Senior Art Exhibition.

RANDY: This week the KSMU Sense of Community series focuses on aging in the Ozarks, and today you’ll hear about older adults expressing themselves through the visual arts. Every year the Missouri State University Gerontology Program, a unit of the Psychology Department, organizes the “Senior Art Exhibition” in cooperation with the National Art Shop and Studio 55 Fine Arts Guild, a group dedicated to promoting creativity in the arts after age 55. Dr. Bradley Fisher, director of the MSU Gerontology Program, has studied the links between creativity and what he calls “successful aging,” or “aging well.”Dr. FISHER: The creativity that these artists employ in their “craft,” if you will--they confront a problem, say in a painting, and they have to figure out a way to manage that problem, overcome that problem. And what I found is that people that were involved in creative activity--I think we can extrapolate from artwork to just “creative work” in general--is that when you see a problem, you don’t view it as “oh, an obstacle--I might as well give up,” but “Here’s a challenge, to learn something, find a new technique, a way around, a way to overcome.” And what I found is that these artists use these “creativity” skills to deal with OTHER issues in their lives! And because of this, they age more successfully… there’s something here, a chance to grow here.

RANDY: Tuesday, March 17 was the big day, when artists delivered their work to the Fuldner Lounge at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts to be juried for the Senior Art Exhibition by a three-person panel. Studio 55 member Rita Jacob was one of the jurors.RANDY: What kinds of things will you be looking for?RITA: I’ll be looking for good overall unity… composition… and colors. The usual things they expect to find in a good piece of art. RANDY: Now, as an artist yourself, what media do you work in?RITA: I work in pastel--strictly pastel.RANDY: So I guess you’re excited, ready to start looking at these things.RITA: Yes I am, because so many of these are on a PROFESSIONAL level, I would think.

RANDY: Dr. Bradley Fisher was certainly pleased with the turnout.Dr. FISHER: The turnout has been great--it’s been pretty steady. We have no clear idea yet on how many, but it looks like it might be another record turnout. This looks like it’s going to be a great show. You can see from the pieces all around; you can just see all these folks standing around--the energy level is fantastic. It is every time, so we’re just delighted right now. Of course, there’s always one person that’s here before we even open the door (!), so… since that time, you can see it--people just keep coming in.

RANDY: Among those who came in was a group from the Table Rock Art Guild in Branson.RANDY: How long have you been entering this show?HELEN LONG: This is my fourth year.RANDY: And how many times has your work been chosen?HELEN: Every time! (chuckles)RANDY: Well, there ya go!EUNICE BLASIK: This is my first time for entering here.RANDY: What did you enter?EUNICE: Two oil paintings.MARSHA NICHOLS: This is the second show that I’ve entered up here.RANDY: What did you enter?MARSHA: A painting, a watercolor painting. And a sculpture made out of trash…EUNICE (laughing): Called…?MARSHA: Trashe’!KAREN DEEDS: I entered a mixed-media painting, watercolor and acrylic; and another mixed media, watercolor with found objects on handmade boxes.

RANDY: Dr. Fisher says they welcome involvement from other art guilds in the region. And while there are many “regulars” year after year, many entries are from first-timers.Dr. FISHER: I would say probably up to 25, 30% are new entries, which is always excellent. We get a lot of “repeats,” but we love to see the new entries as well.

RANDY: Among the “regulars” is Jane Waschick, who you met this morning.JANE: This is a lady in native dress from Sardinia. It’s a very ancient costume. And I loved her! We took her picture. I loved her face--she’s got a classic Italian face.

RANDY: And they’re always glad to welcome back THE “senior” member of the “family,” Myrtle Laabs, who turns 106 years old next month! Both her paintings made it into the show.

The final tally from this year’s Senior Art Exhibition: exactly 100 artists entered this year’s show, including the three judges. A total of 83 works by 52 artists were selected. And all of it can be viewed on the fourth and fifth floor areas of the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. The Senior Art Exhibition continues through April 8, open for viewing Monday through Friday 10:00am to 6:00pm. A slide show of some of the art work is available at the “Sense of Community” link on our website, www.ksmu.org, where you can also download these “Sense of Community” stories. I’m Randy Stewart.

Paula Reed: Jane Waschick: Geraldine Kolb: Michael Kornblum: <Myrtle Laabs: