Wedding Bells Ring at AFTA's Rediscovery Project

Irene wedding

This fall, Arts for the Aging (AFTA) presented a new programmatic series, The Rediscovery Project. Seniors at Downtown Clusters Geriatric Day Care Center in Washington, DC used art, music and dance to rediscover the Depression era. Lithographs and drawings created in the 1930's and 1940's by the late artist Benjamin Abramowitz provided an illustrated context.  Abramowitz’s daughter and AFTA Board Chair Susan Rosenbaum shared the history behind the art as well as the artist. AFTA Teaching Artists Anthony Hyatt and Nancy Havlik guided the participants in interpreting the images and personal reminiscences with movement and song.

Memories and music spilled forth as the art-looking transported the group back in time to the seniors’ own rich and layered histories and families. Participants were also privileged to view Abramowitz’s artwork in the exhibition OUT OF THE VAULT at the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Dupont Circle.
Participants shared personal anecdotes as they reflected on the artwork.  One senior, Irene, who is a 65-year-old retired custodian and single mother, chose "The Bride".

When asked why, she said liltingly, “I never got married." After a pause she added, "But I almost did."  The group showed great surprise! They spend each weekday together at Downtown Clusters, but Irene had never before told her friends this story.  Then she told them of a man who had proposed to her at a young age. She accepted, but as the wedding neared, she knew she could not marry him and called off the wedding.

In the final workshop of the Rediscovery series, participants enacted scenes from their favorite lithographs under the expert guidance of teaching artists Havlik and Hyatt. Irene was joined by a delightfully willing gentleman to bring to life “The Bride.”  Walking down the "aisle", friends looked on with joy and as witnesses to the wedding the beaming Irene “always wanted”-- a moment at once impossible and now rediscovered.


Submitted by Brandi Rose, Program Director at Arts for the Aging (AFTA), Rockville, MD

Funding for this program provided in part by the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation,  the Humanities Council of Washington, DC and S.A. Rosenbaum & Associates.


As one who used to work in residential aged care, I find this story about the bride very touching.

How amazing that this program was able to allow Irene to open up and share a story she had never even told her friends. The power of art is immense! We hope you invite any of your senior living residents to participate in Assisted Living Federation of America's 2013 Art Showcase

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