Folk Art and Aging: Life-Story Objects and Their Makers

Series: Material Vernaculars; 
Publication date: 08/25/2016
Format: paper 138 pages, 41 color illus. 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-02216-5

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 Growing old doesn’t have to be seen as an eventual failure but rather as an important developmental stage of creativity. Offering an absorbingly different perspective on aging and crafts, Jon Kay explores how elders choose to tap into their creative and personal potential through making life-story objects. Carving, painting, and rug hooking not only help them cope with the ails of aging and loneliness but also achieve greater satisfaction with their lives. Whether revived from childhood memories or inspired by their capacity to connect to others, meaningful memory projects serve as a lens for focusing on, remaking, and sharing the long-ago. As Kay observes, it can be a solitary journey for those who reconsider their past in such a markedly material way. These activities often help seniors productively fill the hours after they have raised their children, retired from their jobs, and/or lost a loved one. These individuals forge new identities for themselves that do not erase their past lives but build on them—new lives that include sharing scenes and stories from their memories.