Posted by: Liz Massey | June 24, 2008

Surf’s Up: Creativity Links for June 24, 2008

An encouraging look at the lives of older artists, an important reminder about what life (and art) are all about, and a great place to discuss (and publicize) great ideas are this week’s gleanings from the froth of the creative blogosphere!

1. “Artists don’t retire,” says Joan Jeffri, Director of the Graduate Program in Arts Administration at Teacher’s College at Columbia University. They just keep reinventing themselves. And now, she has concrete evidence that artists in New York City, one of the United States’ creative meccas, are superlative in finding ways to adapt to aging and stay connected to their art and supportive friends and allies.

Late last year, Jeffri released an in-depth report, “Above Ground,” that surveyed 213 visual artists ages 62 to 97 across New York City’s five boroughs. The study documents the survival skills and social supports of aging artists in the city.

Jeffri, who produced the report for the Research Center for Arts and Culture, which she founded and brought to the Teacher’s College in 1998. She says that the artists she spoke for the study with can act as role models for anyone wanting to age succesfully.

“Contrary to the stereotype, Jeffri has found that artists are not typically depressed or suicidal and are, in fact, a better bet than most to stay out of nursing homes.

“‘Older artists have a great deal to offer us as a model for society,’ she says, “especially as the workforce changes to accommodate multiple careers and as baby boomers enter the retirement generation.'”

You can read an informative article that features four of Jeffri’s survey subjects, as well as a thumbnail sketch highlighting the adaptiveness that Jeffri has brought to her own vocational path through the arts. Or you can download the full 213-page PDF version of the report.

2. If you’re caught up in the rat race, and don’t want to end up as a rat, you may want to take a moment to view this charming video, originally posted at, that blends the recorded words of philosopher and author Alan Watts with simple illustrations and music that reinforce that life, like music, has meaning in and of itself.

As a teenager, I was quite taken with Watts’ writings on Zen Buddhism, Taoism and eastern philosophical systems, but this short video is free of brand-name spirituality. It goes directly to the heart of what makes up the creative moment!

3. Got an idea you just can’t help but share? Consider posting it to the Global Ideas Bank, not-for-profit website that describes itself as “part suggestion box, part networking tool, part democratic think-tank and part inspirational entertainment!”

The site has its orgins in the the Institute for Social Inventions, which was set up in 1985 by Nicholas Albery, social inventor and visionary extraordinaire. This site was set up in 1995 and is intended for what site owners define as a “social invention”: a non-product, non-patentable, non-gadget idea, although truly ground-breaking product ideas are featured in the site’s Product Bin section.

Registering at the site allows visitors to rate ideas, offer their support to see the project come to fruition, and track their participation and the success of their “team” of ideas through an MyGIB interface.

While the site has a Web 1.0 feel to it in some ways, the site is a great example of how creative people can share ideas in a collaborative atmosphere and get feedback and support for visions that will take many hands to bring into reality.


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