Wyoming Arts Council – Creative Aging in Wyoming Libraries McMurry Library Endowment Fund
This story is from our spring 2022 newsletter. See the full newsletter here!
When you start a career as an artist, you don’t always know where it will lead you. You may create large public works or installations. You may work for commissions. The truly fortunate artist, though, is the one whose art lets them connect with others.
Wyoming artist Jenn Beachler creates stunning books – designing, constructing, and illustrating them. But one of her other great passions is teaching art. She has mentored countless developing artists, from children to adults. Recently, she connected with older Wyomingites, helping them express themselves through art.
Jenn is one of the teaching artists who received training for Creative Aging in Wyoming Libraries. This Wyoming Arts Council (WAC)-led project was a recent WYCF grantee. Because of your support, artists like Jenn explored how to create artistic opportunities for older Wyomingites.
Libraries were a natural choice to host Creative Aging, says WAC creative arts specialist Taylor Craig. Libraries “are already deeply embedded our communities.” This makes them ideal for “folks that aren’t necessarily ready yet to go into a senior center, but are looking for camaraderie and community.”
A grant from WYCF allowed artists like Jenn to collaborate with libraries to help create these communities. Donors you like make this important work possible. Taylor is not alone in her belief that art can help older Wyomingites. WAC recently surveyed Wyoming artists and arts administrators about which areas of health and wellness most concerned them. Creativity as part of healthy aging drew an overwhelming number of responses.
For Jenn, the WAC-led training “was one of the most energizing and validating experiences I have had in my growth as a teaching artist.” The project gave her the opportunity for professional growth. The instructors “were so informed and thorough, addressing the exact challenges teaching artists face and providing tools” to ensure success.
Jenn has now taught two Creative Aging classes, and they have had a lasting impact. She and her students still meet at their local library for a monthly sketch club. “We spend time working in our art journals doing whatever inspires us, and then chatting and sharing our work. We decided to
call our club ‘Sketchy Characters’.”
If the Sketchy Characters are any indication, projects like Creative Aging in Wyoming Libraries are clearly making a lasting difference in Wyoming. This difference is made possible because of your support.