Let’s Talk: About the Value of Aging Across Cultures
Through ICA’s Art Program, we have coordinated many senior projects over the years in collaboration with various community and cultural organizations. Far too many seniors have reported feeling “invisible” and “diminished.”
It’s clear we live in a youth-fixated culture. As Andy Rooney ruefully pointed out,
“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”
Our fast-paced and increasingly high-tech world continues to devalue old age in many ways. Almost every stereotype we associate with being elderly is something negative: feeble, over the hill, wrinkled, grumpy, sexless, unemployable, of diminished mental ability, to name a few. In fact, according to some researchers, ageism is more pervasive and “accepted” than negative stereotypes based on gender, race or sexual orientation.
This project was a way to start de-bunking some of these misconceptions. To change the lens through which we view aging, and to challenge our stereotypical assumptions, we invited self-identifying
seniors to share their real life experiences, in all their complexities. The stories they told in the community sessions were shared openly and honestly and many are captured in this book. We also facilitated wide-reaching conversation about cross-cultural perceptions and experiences of aging. Everyone learned something about how different societies perceive, treat and value their seniors.
This project would not have been possible without the expert storytelling facilitation of Lina de Guevara and the guidance of our dedicated committee of eight community Elders. We deeply appreciate their support and friendship over this year-long project. My heartfelt thanks go to our Photographer, Quinton Gordon, and our Book Designer, Amanda Maslany, who were not only a joy to work with, but are the reason you’re holding such a beautiful book in your hands today. It was a labour of love and our way of honouring the Elders in our community.
ICA Manager of Arts & Community Engagement
This Is Me : A Youth Art Project
Under the guidance of international award-winning painter and experienced local visual artist Chin Yuen, this ICA artistic youth project worked with a group of young people to examine the subjects of identity, race, faith and belonging using different visual approaches to expressing the self.
Through collage and painting, these young people explored who they are and created “portraits” that capture their stories.
International award-winning Canadian painter, Chin Yuen, the Arts teacher and facilitator of this project, was born in Malaysia. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors from Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a Master of Arts from the University of Victoria, Canada. She has travelled extensively and sees her diverse cultural exposures as an artistic an asset and finds inspiration everywhere, from pop-culture to decaying wood. Her dynamic abstract paintings are on the covers of international textbooks and the walls of residential homes, hotels, health care centres, and corporate buildings.
This project is aligned with ICA’s mandate to create a space for people of all backgrounds, regardless of colour, race, sexual orientation, religion and culture.
Many thanks to Multiculturalism BC for funding this project.
Click on the images below to read the artist statements and see photos from the project.