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Perspectives on Aging

Creative Aging Conference

Friday, October 27, 2017
8:30am – 6:00 pm

Frye Auditorium

Perspectives on Aging is a one-day conference designed for adults, care partners of older adults, healthcare professionals, artists, educators, and students. Continuing education units will be available.

The conference will explore the topic of aging from different historical and cultural perspectives, and across many disciplines, including philosophy, medicine, gerontology, film, and art history. Lectures by national and local experts such as Wes Cecil, PhD, and Eric B. Larson, MD, will present findings in their research and practice that challenge audiences to reframe their concept of aging.

After check-in and continental breakfast, the conference will begin at 9 am, and will conclude with a classical music performance by the Rawson Duo and a hosted reception.

Program and Speakers

Keynote: What Do We Mean When We Say Aging? A Reflection on the Notion of Age

Wes Cecil, PhD

Everyone ages, but what it means to age has been interpreted differently in a wide range of cultures. In this lecture, Wes Cecil, PhD, will explore the idea of aging by comparing a number of different civilizations' idea of aging. While the concept seems natural, our perspectives on aging are culturally specific and have a large impact on how we experience and understand what aging means to us. The lecture seeks to provide perspectives with which to reassess our notions of aging.

Wes Cecil is a student of philosophy and literature. He received his BA from Fresno State University in English, and studied literature and critical theory at Indiana University, where he earned an MA and PhD. Disenchanted with large institutions, he moved to Port Townsend, Washington, to continue studying, gardening, and engaging in wide-ranging projects, including presenting a popular community lecture series for Peninsula College on philosophy, art, and literature.


Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life: Enlightened Aging

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH

The Baby Boomer generation and their parents were the first in human history to experience so many persons living into “old old” age–85, 90, 95, and even beyond. Simultaneously, our knowledge of aging, and especially the aging brain and dementia, has expanded dramatically in the last 40 years. Our parents didn’t expect to live so long–why should they? Their parents didn’t. But today there is an opportunity for enlightened aging. Dr. Larson will present research results from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study and, based on firsthand experience with persons living beyond 90, propose a path for growing old with resilience and foresight.

Eric B. Larson is a leading expert in the science of healthy aging. Since 1986, he has led a large, longitudinal research program focused on delaying and preventing Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, and declines in memory and thinking. He is executive director of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and professor of medicine and health services at the University of Washington. Dr. Larson is a primary care physician specializing in internal medicine and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

A Perfect Storm of Circumstances: Jean Walkinshaw

Interviewed by Marcie Sillman

Being 91 years old, Jean Walkinshaw believes she is “reasonably qualified to talk about what it means to age. I feel I’ve lived in a perfect storm of circumstances beyond my control that have allowed me to be here as I am today.” In this onstage interview, Walkinshaw talks with KUOW arts and cultural reporter Marcie Sillman about her creative life as a documentary filmmaker, conservationist, activist, wife, mother, and grandmother.

Jean Walkinshaw produced television for The History Channel; KING, NBC affiliate; KCTS, and National PBS. She wrote, edited, and field-produced over 49 local and national documentaries and managed and directed film crews in Russia, Japan, and Africa as well as United States. A sampling of her documentaries include Rainier—The Mountain; Three Artists in the Northwest (George Tsutakawa, Guy Anderson, and Theodore Roethke), and Remarkable People: Making a Difference in the Northwest. Recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Japan Price (NHK), and others, Walkinshaw has received over 30 major local and national awards including eight Northwest Regional Emmys, Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Ohio State Award, and the New York International Film Festival Award.

Marcie Sillman is arts and cultural reporter for KUOW. Her longtime reporting for the station began in 1985 as producer of the daily public affairs show Seattle After Noon. She was also the local voice of All Things Considered, NPR's flagship afternoon news magazine; co-creator of several shows including The Beat, Seattle's only broadcast program to focus specifically on arts and culture; and The Record, a daily news magazine focused on the issues and culture of the Puget Sound region. More than 100 of her stories have been heard on NPR's newsmagazines, as well as on The Voice of America.

"Still Brightness:" Elder Artists from Michelangelo to Agnes Martin

Rebecca Albiani, art historian

Stories are well-known of famous artists whose careers are tragically cut short in their youth. But what of those artists fortunate enough to live well into their prime and then some, who battled loss, ill health, or dementia and continued to produce works as radiant as Monet’s Orangerie water lilies or Hokusai’s Great Wave?  From Chardin to Goya, from O’Keeffe to De Kooning, Albiani will tell stories of great artists who worked with undiminished creativity and thoroughgoing wonder well into their elder years.

Rebecca Albiani has been an arts lecturer at the Frye Art Museum since 1997. She was a Graduate Lecturing Fellow at Washington’s National Gallery and a Fulbright Scholar in Venice. She received an MA from Stanford University and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.


The Powers of Lineage: Reflecting Upon the Ancestors

Storme Webber, interdisciplinary artist

Performance artist and poet Storme Webber presents an interdisciplinary exploration of her Ancestors through song and poetry. Descended from Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) women with origins in Seldovia, Alaska, and from Black and Choctaw women from the Deep South of Texas and Louisiana, Webber honors the sovereignty of her Ancestor’s spirits through creative consideration of personal and cultural histories as a source of empowerment and continuance. The artist's family lines draw us in, displaying the warmth, strength, and resilience of people who are well accustomed to adapting to change and new environments. Webber’s performance is presented in conjunction with her first solo exhibition, Casino: A Palimpsest, on view at the Frye Art Museum through October 29.

Storme Webber is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, educator, and curator. Born and raised in Seattle, she holds an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College. She has performed and toured her work internationally, and consistently foregrounds the work of other marginalized artists, most recently founding Voices Rising: LGBTQ of Color Arts & Culture in Seattle. Her poetry collections include Diaspora and Blues Divine. Webber received the 2015 James W. Ray Venture Project Award, which is funded by the Raynier Institute & Foundation through the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium. The award supports and advances the creative work of outstanding artists living and working in Washington State and culminates in an exhibition at the Frye Art Museum.

Meet Me at the Movies

Mary Jane Knecht, Manager, Creative Aging Programs, Frye Art Museum
Keri Pollock, Director of Marketing and Communications, Aging Wisdom, and Frye Creative Aging Advisory Committee Member

Perspectives on aging will be explored in Meet Me at the Movies, an interactive film program designed for adults living with memory loss and their care partners that can be enjoyed by all adults. Theme-based clips will be shown, followed by audience discussion. For this special conference presentation, clips will be screened from Iris, Albert Maysles’s last documentary about Iris Apfel, the infamous grand dame of fashion, and Helmer & Son, a darkly comic Danish short film that presents a dysfunctional family dealing with an aging father. Co-presented by Mary Jane Knecht, Creative Aging Programs, Frye Art Museum, and Keri Pollock, Director of Marketing and Communications, Aging Wisdom, and Frye Creative Aging Advisory Committee Member, who have been partnering over the past three years to offer Meet Me at the Movies as a quarterly program at the Frye and in the community.

Classical Music Performance: Reflections in Autumn

The Rawson Duo with guest cellist Fred Thompson

Celebrating the creativity of composers in their elder years, the Rawson Duo performs works of Scottish classical composer Sir John Blackwood McEwen (1868-1948) and French Romantic composer Gabriel Fauŕe (1845-1924). McEwen’s duo suite, Improvisations Provençales, is an introspective work composed at the age of 69. Gabriel Fauŕe wrote his uplifting Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120, under severe physical impairments at the age of 78.

The Rawson Duo, specializing in Romantic and early-20th-century works for violin and piano, has been together since 1989, performing on college campuses and community performing arts series across the US and in Canada. Alan (violin) and Sandy (piano) Rawson now reside in Chimacum, Washington, where they perform throughout the year in the intimate setting of their concert-remodeled home, bringing to life rarely heard works. This year marks their 10th anniversary season.

Fred Thompson, PhD (literature), retired professor of English studies at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, was principal cellist of the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra and performed frequently as a recitalist and chamber musician on the Olympic Peninsula before moving to Portland, Oregon. He has been a guest performer several times with the Rawson Duo.


Registration for this event is now closed. Please join our mailing list to receive updates about Creative Aging programs.

A limited number of scholarships are available at a reduced rate. Please contact Mary Jane Knecht, Manager, Creative Aging Programs at mknecht@fryemuseum.org for an application.

Support Creative Aging programs with a tax-deductible donation, which includes providing scholarships for the Perspectives on Aging conference. For more information contact Renate Raymond, Deputy Director, Development, rraymond@fryemuseum.org or 206 432 8217.

Creative Aging Programs

Perspectives on Aging is organized by the Frye Art Museum with generous support from the Frye Foundation.

The conference is presented in conjunction with the Frye Art Museum’s Creative Aging Programs. Since 2010, the Frye has offered here:now, an arts engagement program for adults living with dementia and their care partners, in addition to workshops, conferences, and films on creativity, aging, and dementia awareness. Offsite, the Frye provides Bridges, creative arts programming for adults living with dementia in community care facilities and in private homes, and Meet Me at the Movies, an interactive film program at King County Libraries as well as at the Frye.

The Creative Aging Programs at the Frye Art Museum are made possible through the generous support of The Richard M. and Maude M. Ferry Charitable Foundation, Humanities Washington, The Norcliffe Foundation, Aging Wisdom, Rotary Seattle, and Evergreen Association of Fine Arts. Additional support is provided by The Frye Foundation and from Frye Art Museum members.