Seniors & Their Stories: Workshop and Exhibit

IMDThe Institute of Music & Dance, through the Kresge Onstage! Program, developed and conducted the Seniors & Their Stories workshop and exhibit taking place in the Beyond Words Gallery at Marygrove College.

Judith Molina, Director of IMD, conceived and coordinated the intergenerational workshop/exhibit which engaged senior adults, college students and high school students. The multifaceted project brought together senior adults living in the McGivney Bethune Apartments on the campus of Marygrove College, Marygrove College undergraduates in, Associate Professor, Susan Panek’s, Arts and Civic Engagement course and renowned Detroit photographer, Barbara Barefield, who worked PSX_20160222_151546with photography students from Renaissance High School.

Twenty-three college students met with seven seniors,

  • Dutchman Aggars
  • Loretta Buckner
  • Evelyn Chandler
  • Mildred Collins
  • Gale Howard
  • Anna Thomas
  • John Wilson

The students listened to and recorded the personal stories of these seniors, living in Northwest Detroit, and developed, through word, dance, song and visual art, a creative expression of the individual they came to know more personally. Visual art as well as a video of the presentation, at the McGivney Bethune complex for over fifty residents and friends, are on display.

Barbara Barefield met with eighteen Renaissance High School students in Odette Duke Holley’s photography class discussing the project and the photographic techniques they would be using for the photo shoot. Renaissance High School, English/Language Arts Instructional Specialist, Janice Rowley, was also instrumental in working with the students developing questions to ask the seniors while they were being photographed. That technique helped each senior feel less self-conscious and more at ease during his/her photo shoot. On November 12 & 13, 2015, Ms. Barefield and the photography students conducted the photo shoots of the seniors at the McGivney Bethune apartment complex. The fruits of their creative eyes are on display in the gallery.

Teacher, Janice Rowley: “An incredible, powerful cultural and historical experience for both the students and the adults. Please keep doing this.”

Renaissance Students: “This experience really taught me a lot. I got to hear how older people see children my age. I got to hear how my city has changed since they (the seniors) were young.

“This experience was great! It taught on two levels – personal/moral as well as technically (photography). It was interesting to use backdrops and lighting as well.”

Marygrove Students:

“This was a wonderful and uplifting experience! I was able to use my creative talent to bring someone’s story to life. There was so much history in every story.”

“It felt great to creatively make someone feel good about their life story. I was able to use my art to enhance their life.”

This workshop yielded a better understanding and acceptance of different generations. Through the creative process the stories of these seniors are highlighted and reflect on the beauty of lives lived in a different era.

The Kresge Foundation
Erb Family Foundation
James and Lynelle Holden Fund
Rose DeSloover, Professor Emerita
Jordeen Ivanov-Ericson, Chair, Division of Visual and Performing Arts, Marygrove College
Judith Molina, Director, Institute of Music & Dance at Marygrove College
Susan Panek, Associate Professor and Chair, Dance Department, Marygrove College
Tim Gralewski, Director, Beyond Words Gallery
Barbara Barefield, Photographer/Instructor and Curator
Odette Duke Holley & Janice Rowley, Renaissance High School, Art & English Instructors
Dyann Longmire, Manager, McGivney Bethune Apartments
Disheka Daniels, Resident Services Coordinator, McGivney Bethune Apartments

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