People are sitting in rows at tables with art tools in their hands. They are painting and drawing on the canvas' in front of them.
Vitality Arts participants making art at Mia.

55 and better: Vitality Arts exhibition reveals latent talents and lasting friendships

For the past year, several different groups of older adults—men and women from the Twin Cities—have gotten together to make art with Mia. Drawings, paintings, assemblages, one quilt and a video—fifty-six works altogether. Now, in Mia’s Community Commons gallery, the work is on display, recognizing not just the artistic but the social, physical, and emotional benefits of the Vitality Arts program.

“It would be difficult to fully capture how impactful and extraordinary this class has been and will be going forward for me,” one participant reflected. “Community, expansion, expression of self, and joy! I can simply say you have created an opening for my new creative life.” 

“It was like we discovered something in us that was hidden before,” another noted, “skills that we didn’t even know we had. We are no longer only preoccupied in our houses, we are learning new things that we haven’t tried before.”

Creativity at work through Vitality Arts.

The artworks in this exhibition tell a story about the creativity, talents, and curiosity of older adults who today comprise the fastest growing segment of people in the United States. Over the course of the program, Mia collaborated with six community partners in seven different workshops, with a host of professional teaching artists leading them. Each cohort had its own unique character. 

During their drawing workshop, CommonBond Communities participants built trust through weekly feedback sessions and formed lasting friendships while honing their skills. In two workshops at Centro Tyrone Guzman, the Wise Elders shared  their diverse Latine cultures while developing the skills needed to create mixed-media assemblages. The focus on vision, values, and vibes at the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center acrylic painting class encouraged painters to tackle subjects they connected with emotionally. Opportunity Partners workshop participants had a behind-the-scenes tour during the installation of Mia’s Art in Bloom exhibition before learning about floral design and creating their own botanical paintings. The public performance at Mia by participants in the workshop with Rainbow Health and Theatre 55 provided a first opportunity for many to make a quilt and tell their stories onstage. Being part of an artists’ community inspired Catholic Charities participants to focus on training their hands and eyes by creating contour drawings, experimenting with light and shade, and designing compositions. 

“This class, through instruction and community, has opened a whole new world for me!” one participant wrote. “I am excited, inspired, and will expand myself going forward using all I have learned here.”

Watch the video about Vitality Arts here, and  see the exhibition at Mia through November 12,