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‘Presence: An Exploration of Aging Through Art’

Exhibit challenges perceptions of growing old

WHEELING — A new exhibition and educational series opens March 5 at Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center. “Presence: An Exploration of Aging Through Art” examines the universal, yet intensely personal, experience of growing old.

Through a variety of media, the exhibition explores a broad range of perspectives-from thriving lifestyles to the harsher realities of aging. “Presence” provides insight into the physical and mental aging process, challenges us to rethink how we perceive age, highlights the therapeutic benefits of the creative process and examines the role of elders in our society.

A series of learning and community-building events will also take place.

“Presence” is part of the Stifel Center’s humanities series, developed by curator Michael McKowen.

“I believe that the role of the Stifel Fine Arts Center is to provide a place to commune,” McKowen said. “A public art space should invite exploration. By presenting topics that affect every human being, we provide opportunities for emotional, physical, mental and spiritual growth.”

The exhibit showcases work from a dozen artists from six states.

Among the featured artists are Isadora Kosofsky, a Los Angeles-based documentary photographer, who was recently named one of a hundred “heroines” in photography worldwide by the Royal Photo Society; photographer Marna Clarke, who at age 70 decided to chronicle her own aging process; mixed media artist Sylvie Bucher whose “Memory” series explores how memory fragments with age and dementia; New York-based poet and founder of the internationally acclaimed Alzheimer’s Poetry Project Gary Glazner; Ohio watercolorist Gina Judy whose paintings depict her father’s time in a nursing home; sculptor Morgan Kranz whose series of hand sculptures explores how to show compassion for the inevitable aging process; art therapist, educator and artist Annie McFarland and mixed media artist Roberta Rousos whose work deals with the duality and contradiction of body and soul.

“Presence” also features pieces from four Ohio Valley artists-Thomas Wharton, Jean Och, Debbie Joseph and Robert Joseph and includes work from students in Chatham University’s Interior Architecture Program.

Educational programs take place weekly and include panel discussions on aging and dementia, presentations from featured artists, yoga and wellness workshops, spoke word events and art therapy sessions. All programs are free and open to the public.

“Presence” is sponsored by The Health Plan, WVU Medicine and United Bank with additional support provided by the Home Support Foundation.

The exhibit will be on display at Oglebay Institute’s Stifel Fine Arts Center through April 25 and can be viewed free of change from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays. Evening hours are dependent on classes and special events.

For more information, www.OIonline.com/presence or call the Stifel Fine Arts Center at 304-242-7700.

Housed in the historic Edemar Mansion, the Stifel Fine Arts Center is a treasure trove for artistic expression and personal fulfillment. A public arts center with galleries, classrooms and performance space, the Stifel Center serves as a gathering place for artists, emerging artists, art lovers, students, educators and families-connecting and engaging the community in creative pursuits.

“Presence” Educational Programs

In conjunction with the exhibit, Oglebay Institute will host a series of learning and community-building events. Programs explore the various facets of aging and how art can play a role in that experience.

All programs are free and open to the public.

∫ Thursday, March 5: A Journey Through Dementia

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

April Wintermoyer, owner of Right At Home in Wheeling and Morgantown, will facilitate a virtual dementia experience. By altering senses and perceptions, the program simulates day-to-day realities of people living with dementia, enabling participants to experience firsthand the physical and mental challenges for those living with the disease.

∫ Wednesday, March 11: Senior Yoga Class with Amy Johnson

10 a.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

In this 45-minute chair class, practice movement, balance, flexibility and breathing techniques and cultivate an understanding of their importance. Open to any senior citizen, 65 and older. Reservations required.

∫ Thursday, March 12: Help, Hope & Understanding: A Dialogue on Dementia

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

Experts in the fields of geriatric social work and dementia care discuss caregiving and treatment for dementia patients.

∫ Thursday, March 19: An Evening of Spoken Word

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

Join West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman and other writers for an evening of poetry and prose, reflecting on the concepts and culture of aging.

∫ Thursday, March 26: Art Therapy Discussion with West Liberty University

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

Dr. Susan Ridley and students in WLU’s creative arts therapy program discuss their experiences working with patients at Wheeling Hospital’s Continuous Care Center including purpose, goals and directives of art therapy.

∫ Thursday, April 2: Isadora Kosofsky

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

Isadora Kosofsky will discuss her photo-documentary and feature film “Senior Love Triangle.”

∫ April 3, 4 & 5: “Senior Love Triangle”

7 p.m. Friday; 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; Towngate Theatre

Inspired by the true story documented in Isadora Kosofsky’s photo series by the same name, “Senior Love Triangle” is a narrative feature film that focuses on intimacy, romantic love, loneliness and loss through a trio of senior citizens.

∫ Thursday, April 9: It’s Never Too Late: Creating Art Later in Life

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

Established and emerging artists over the age of 60 discuss their careers-some of which have been life-long and others that blossomed after retirement-and how creating art has enriched their lives.

∫ Thursday, April 16: NEA Panel on Creative Aging

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

Beth Bienvenu of the National Endowment for the Arts leads a discussion on Creative Aging-the practice of engaging older adults in participatory arts programs to benefit individuals and the community at large.

∫ Thursday, April 23: Navigating End of Life Care

6 p.m.; Stifel Fine Arts Center

Experts in elder care discuss key elements of quality end of life care, including person-centered care, team approaches, involvement in programs such as hospice, and caregiver support.

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