Holladay's home for the arts!
Holladay's home for the arts!
By Sona Schmidt-Harris | email@example.com
Holladay has 11 Artists of the Month. Yes, 11. All are women, and all are enrolled in a creative aging class. The artists have expressed themselves in writing and are now moving into a visual art phase. Their creations will hang in the Holladay City Hall front foyer at the beginning of May.
Meeting Monday and Wednesday, this dynamic group is taught by Nan Seymour and Kandace Steadman. Seymour taught the writing portion of the course and Steadman the visual. The writing portion provided a safe space for the artists to share personal details of their lives.
“We also spend time each session in a grounding meditation and end with a poem being read aloud,” Steadman said. “In addition to individual writing and collages, we are collaborating in a group writing and group collage, creating individual and collective work. It has become a bonding experience through these shared activities.”
Student/artist Susan Mumford was eager to participate in the course. “After two years of COVID, the idea of meeting in person with other artists and writers was compelling,” she said. “I have not been disappointed.”
One of the artists in the class, Mandana Ghaffarian, was at first hesitant to enroll in the course. “With that in mind, I thought I better face my fear of writing and making art,” she said. Ghaffarian appreciated Seymour’s simple sentences as prompts. “I was amazed of the writing that showed up on my paper.”
Student Cecilie Mattison said that the course “has exceeded my wildest expectations” and “taking baby steps immediately put everyone at ease.” She further stated, “It proves you can teach old dogs new tricks.”
During the writing portion of the course taught by Seymour, the group agreed to be non-judgmental, open to what others had to share, take responsibility for the success of the group, offer their truths and practice self-care. “I remember” and “Praise” were two of the writing prompts used during the course.
Seymour is a poet and author of the collection, “Prayers not Meant for Heaven.” Additionally, she is the founder of a community writing practice called “River Writing.”
“The practice of writing at a shared table in a supported way can help people free themselves from the tyrannies of perfectionism and isolation,” Seymour said. She believes that the “gloriously imperfect creative process” has allowed the students to learn in a “warmly connected way.”
The visual portion of the course taught by Steadman features a workshop in collage.
“It doesn't require a steep investment in art supplies and is less intimidating than other art media,” Steadman said. She has featured her own collages in juried shows and had a solo exhibition.
With a background in art history, Steadman has worked in museums, as an adjunct professor at Westminster College and as a curator of exhibitions. The course has proven rewarding and helpful to both students and instructors. “I am motivated again to tap into my inner writer and artist and have been struggling out of a non-productive slump through this experience,” Mumford said.
“It might be trite to say,” Steadman said, “but hearts and minds have been opened and expanded!”
If you would like to nominate a Holladay resident for Artist of the Month, please visit: www.holladayarts.org/suggest-an-artist