Alabama Cultural Arts Center showcases the talents of elderly students

OLLI Exhibit Show Card Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 4.06.03 PMWhen one views an art gallery, they might believe in the connotation of the work being strictly professional. However, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Alabama has now highlighted the informal work of recreational students.

By Jared Ferguson
News Producer

On July 7, the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, at 620 Greensboro Ave., opened an exhibit showcasing the work of students associated with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Alabama.

The temporary exhibit, “It’s Never Too Late to Start,” solely includes the art work of students 50 years and older, professional or recreational. Director Jennifer Anderson described the independence of the program as opposed to the idea of it as strictly for professional artists.

“When we offer an art class to a member, we’re offering to give them an introduction into that art medium, and then at that point in time, if they love clay, then they can join the clay co-op, or if they love acrylics, they can talk to the instructor and see if they can take lessons further. We’re really not wanting to compete with any other art programs in the community. We’re wanting to be a compliment,” Anderson said.

Lois Strachan, OLLI’s program coordinator, stressed that the program offers classes to any individuals fitting the age range without worrying about the stress of their work being graded or judged unfairly.

“Well, that’s the beauty about OLLI. We take people at whatever level they are. Some of the people who were artists, they have actually been commissioned to do artwork and they’re way on that end of the spectrum, but then you’ve got people who have just retired and maybe they’ve never even tried art but their best friend or somebody has encouraged them to do it, so they try it and then they’ve found a new talent, skill, hobby, or whatever it is to enjoy,” Strachan said.

The exhibit itself has seen much in the way of success from both attendance and participation. Despite the exhibit closing on Aug. 18, Karen Kennedy, director of the gallery, said that OLLI’s works will be featured again in the gallery, but an actual confirmation is not set in stone.

“It will not be annual. We have actually booked exhibits through the next year, and we just have so many artists and groups in the West Alabama area that it’s really hard to do annual shows. We want other people to have that opportunity to show their works, but we will do it sometime in the future, just not annually,” said Kennedy.

Any individuals interested in potentially enrolling in classes and potentially having their work featured are encouraged to contact Anderson or Strahan through their emails at janderson@ccs.ua.edu or lstrachan@ccs.ua.edu.