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Anthropology & Aging Vol.36 no.1


link to the issue

The June 2015 issue of Anthropology & Aging features the latest commentaries, articles, and reviews, available free now through our open-access agreement. In addition to our usual content, this issue includes a commentary/response format first introduced in the special issue on the body (33.3) and reintroduced in this issue by Maruta Vitols and Caitrin Lynch’s piece on representations of aging in films and a reflective response by A&A co-editor Philip Kao. Stephanie May de Montigny’s Portfolio continues this discussion of performance, narrative, and creativity on the stage. We hope these contributions spark more interest and interaction here on our blog as well as in cafes and classrooms everywhere!

Every issue of Anthropology & Aging that we produce depends on the skills and time volunteered by our editorial staff, our board, peer reviewers, and digital publishing support. This issue is especially exciting because also it showcases the work happening across the Association of Anthropology and Gerontology—from supporting student work with the Margaret Clark Award, to the international conference held last February.

Anthropology & Aging 36(1) begins with an commentary adapted from the keynote address delivered by past International President of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders  (MSF), Dr. Unni Karunakara at the 2015 AAGE Conference on “Health Disparities in Aging” hosted by Florida International University. Dr. Karunakara writes from the front lines of global public health and humanitarian response, and his evaluation of the recognition (or lack thereof) of the important roles of older people in high risk, post-disaster circumstances reveals the need to rethink how aid organizations are held accountable for including older adults as a priority in their work.

In addition to Dr. Karunakara’s Keynote, the AAGE conference also provided a chance for our organization to support student research and professionalization. One of our banner activities in this regard has been the awarding of the Margaret Clark award for student papers. In 2014 AAGE awarded two Margaret Clark Awards, one at the graduate level (Ben Kasstan, Durham University), and another at the undergraduate level (Lilly Lerer, University of Chicago). The awardees both revised their papers into articles and braved the peer-review process to be accepted for publication in A&A. Ben Kasstan’s article focuses on the voices and experiences of Shoah survivors at a UK day center mediate their experiences of past trauma by incorporating elements of Judaism, literally through food and memory. Lilly Lerer’s article is a sensitive and intimate account of her fieldwork with hospice patients and staff as they mutually embody a temporality of ‘slow care’ that contrasts with the efficient and cure-centered care of the biomedical end of life settings.

Care is a theme running throughout this issue, and, as the authors note, throughout current discussions of doing anthropology in the Anthropocene. Two additional articles in this issue take up the theme of care for older adults. Iza Kavedžija’s ethnographically rich depiction of community care in urban Japan looks at the co-productions of categories of ‘elderly’ and ‘carer’ as individuals move through various care settings, employing symbolic and linguistic cues that mark roles and relationships along a spectrum of social potentialities. Fetterolf, a student member of AAGE, examines healing in Alzheimer’s care in the US, adopting a case study approach, proposing that close attention to personhood creates ‘bridges’ to providing better care.

Enjoy this issue and we look forward to bringing you our next special issue on “Aging the Technoscape” in the Fall. CFP is still open until June 30 for this issue, and general submissions on other topics are always welcome!


Anthropology & Aging Quarterly Volume 34, issue 3 (September 2013) pp.135-140AAQ34(3)TAKACS_135Leo

Fascinating Wisdom: “The Solon Senior Project”

Judy Takács, Painter

Download full high quality printable PDF here: AAQ34(3)TAKACS-hires

If the delicious signs of aging were considered fascinating and revered in our culture, how would they be honored in art? What if every pucker and fold were celebrated and every fine line that appeared along the path to old age  were welcomed with the glee of having leaped the next hurdle?

What if we as a culture saw the physical markings of old age as a badge of courage awarded to one who has gained the precious wisdom that comes from a life thoroughly lived?

“If wrinkles were a good thing, how would I paint them?”

I see them that way and try to paint a wrinkle as if it was a very good thing indeed.

I luxuriate in them. I celebrate every purse of flesh and caress the twists and turns. I massage the subtle color and texture changes and paint them with hedonistic pleasure. These portraits are not flattering by the narrow standards of beauty society has defined, but artists have for centuries been shaping ideals of beauty, so, true to that pioneer creative spirit, I fight the good fight and celebrate the fascinating wisdom of beautiful seniors and hope my joy becomes contagious.

The paintings shown here are from a collection of larger than life size portraits of beautiful old souls that I created during my yearlong public painting project painting seniors in the busy lobby of my local Senior Center. It was a lively demonstration of painting skills and provided me with an ample supply of faces with stories and wisdom.

This project was surprisingly easy to orchestrate. My local senior center was eager for this “enrichment activity” for their seniors, and because I paid my senior models $20 an hour to pose, they were more than eager to sign up. My signup sheets filled up quickly within the first week or so. Then, when the project started, each Thursday, I came to the senior center with my paints, seated easel, fold-up tables and of course a giant drop cloth to protect the carpeting in the lobby. My senior of the week was, without exception, there early and ready to work; all of them carried a strong work ethic with them into retirement, and enjoyed having an important job to do.

Once my model was seated, with the lighting adjusted, I explained to them about holding still to pose; finding one spot to focus on, and, even if they talked a bit, to keep focusing on that spot. Because as a painter of peoples faces, a minute shift in the angle of an eye can mean major changes in a portrait.

I also explained to them that I’d be taking photos as I painted. Their two-hour posing session was only the beginning of this 30 or more hour painting I would be creating. I needed to finish the painting using the photos as reference. Sometimes, if I felt the model was up to it, I’d ask them to pose for different expressions, so I could compose a psychological drama if I chose to, later in the privacy of my studio.

As I became more comfortable painting and talking in this public setting, so did my models. Later sitters would often spend the entire two hours telling me about their lives. I heard about amazing grandkids and about how some of the younger seniors were caring for their older senior parents or spouses…while dealing with their own illnesses and losses.  I was honored that one gentleman used the posing date to mark the one month anniversary of surviving being hit by a car on his bicycle. And I also heard about the good stuff; many had joined choirs, acting troups, art classes and volunteered their time to charity.

The paintings from this project made their public debut in a solo show at the Solon Center for the Arts, November 2012 and the book is available on blurb.com. (search: The Solon Senior Project: Judy Takács Paints Fascinating Wisdom) I invited the seniors to the opening reception as honored guests, and gave them each an inscribed copy of the book. It was fun for the younger guests to recognize the older faces from the paintings, and the older folks were proud to be part of the art. Many have continued to follow my art by coming to my art events since that show. As much as I feel I have enriched their lives by inviting them to participate in the creative process, they have given me so much more in sharing their lives and beautiful faces with me.

For more of Judy’s work: judytakacspaintspeople.com

For more information on these and other portraits from the Solon Senior Project Series:

Follow the blog about her current project,
painting unsung female heroes: chickswithballsjudytakacs.blogspot.com

AAQ Volume 34 issue 3, Special Issue on the Body, September 2013

AAQ34(3)coverAAQ 34(3) SEPTEMBER 2013

Editor’s Introduction to the issue: the Aging Body
Jason Danely

From Being to Ontogenetic Becoming: Commentary on Analytics of the Aging Body
Ender Ricart, University of Chicago
Katrina L. Moore, University of New South Wales, Australia
Athena C. McLean, Central Michigan University

Postmenopausal Health and Disease from the Perspective of Evolutionary Medicine
Andrew W. Froehle, Wright State University
Active Aging: Hiking, Walking, Health, and Healing
Rodney Steadman, University of Alberta, Candace I.J. Nykiforuk, University of Alberta, Helen Vallianatos, University of Alberta
Population Aging as the Social Body in Representation and Real Life
Alexandra Crampton, Marquette University
The Uncertain Bodies and Spaces of Aging in Place
Lauren Penney, University of Arizona
The Familial Dyad between Aged Patients and Filipina Caregivers in Israel: Eldercare, Bodily-based Practices, and the Jewish Family
Keren Mazuz, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Fascinating Wisdom: “The Solon Senior Project”
Judy Takács, Painter