Elders and an Artist Bring a Social Sculpture to Life


POMONA, Calif. — Deep within the verdant grounds of the Mt. San Antonio Gardens retirement community, the artist Elizabeth Turk was immersed in her latest project, an ambitious work of art that she could easily imagine but not yet see.

“What do you tell yourself when you face adversity?” she asked the residents, drawing inspiration for a project that would create hope during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the 31-acre community as her canvas and its 500 residents and staff members as her medium, Ms. Turk envisioned “a wild garden on steroids” for a moving-art installation titled “Project: Look Up.”

Officials there approached her in July about designing umbrellas for their gift shop. But the discussion quickly turned to the residents, who range in age from 64 to 104

“It just hit my heart,” the artist recalled. “I thought what better community to engage with to remind us of joy and resilience — vulnerable people leading us back to joy and togetherness.”

The Mt. San Antonio Gardens’ chief executive, Maureen Beith, was initially hesitant about letting residents participate because of Covid-19, she said. “But because I knew that something positive was sorely needed, I felt it was important for us to go out on a limb a little bit.”

And so on a crisp November day last week, masked participants gathered, each carrying a colorful umbrella featuring the artist’s drawings of plants that symbolize success in the face of adversity. The umbrella width helped encourage social distancing.

To make “Look Up” more inclusive, the artist arranged to photograph residents who had been unable to participate. Those with mobility issues received a mechanism that allowed umbrellas to be attached to wheelchairs or walkers.

In the weeks leading up to the event, residents prepared handwritten responses to Ms. Turk’s question about adversity. Sayings such as “Be brave,” “I am a warrior” and “Breathe,” will be incorporated into Ms. Turk’s final multimedia artwork.


Sahred From Source link Arts