Gerontology Hallway Exemplifies Creativity in Older Adults

Posted on March 07, 2023

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The hallway on the second floor of the Ferguson Building is no longer a drab entrance with old posters. Assistant Professor Dr. Elise Eifert created a new way to draw attention to how engaged senior citizens can be while adding color to the building.

“We’re always trying to draw attention to the Gerontology Program,” said Eifert, who is the Graduate Gerontology Program Coordinator.

“I thought this was the perfect opportunity.”

Showcasing the work of senior citizens was the perfect fit for the hallway near the Gerontology Program. Eifert contacted Lia Miller, the co-founder and executive director of the Creative Aging Network-NC in Greensboro, about spotlighting art from individuals in the program. The Creative Aging Network-NC provides arts programs and education for older adults.

Jean Muson with her artwork.
Jean Muson with her artwork.

Jean Muson is the first artist for the Creative Aging Gallery Hallway. Muson, an 83-year-old from Jamaica, came to the U.S. in the 1980s, and settled in Greensboro in the early 1990s. She paints with acrylics, focusing mainly on horses and scenes she recalls from her homeland near Kingston.

“We had horses in Jamaica when my kids were growing up,” Muson said.

“I still see horses in the clouds. They’re lovely animals because of their movement. They’re so old and wise, they know everything.”

Muson became interested in art at a young age in Jamaica, winning an award for her figure compositions. “My school really fostered art, whether it was singing, drama, painting,” she said.

When she left school, she thought she would go to England and focus on art. Instead, she started a family and worked at an advertising agency, where she could still work on art, until she moved to Florida in the 1980s. Since then, she has traveled throughout the U.S. working on her painting and studying with other artists, before settling in the Triad.

Miller and Eifert selected Muson as the first artist for the Creative Aging Gallery Hallway because of her story and the quality of her work.

“I knew Jean had beautiful, colorful artwork, a great story and her art is nostalgic,” Miller said.

“And a lot of times, people think we just need to reminisce or think about the past, but continuing to create new works of art inspired by the past is a beautiful balance of fueling a passion while acknowledging the past.”

Miller said she also hopes Muson’s art and the Creative Aging Gallery Hallway will help confront a societal problem.

“To showcase an older artist, I hope we can address ageism and show that someone can continue to thrive,” she said.

Eifert said she would love to have several artists featured from the Creative Aging Network, but also spotlight art from other UNCG departments, as well, if it focuses on a theme related to aging.

Eifert said she could see many uses for the Creative Aging Gallery Hallway, including for the clients of the UNCG Speech and Hearing Center, which is housed in the same building. She said aphasia clients, who have difficulty with speech, could practice describing the artwork.

“I am absolutely thrilled to showcase someone who’s still channeling their creative process and will make a bland, sterile hall more interesting,” Eifert said.

Muson’s artwork will be displayed for several months before a new artist is selected.

Story by Sarah Newell, HHS Communications.
Photography by Sarah Newell.