Kathryn Adamchick is the teaching artist for the Pulitzer’s spring program Arts and Aging.
Two Saturdays ago, medical students from St. Louis University and adults from Oasis met for the first in a series of discussions on contemporary art, urban blight, the creative process and the revitalization of St Louis, in connection with Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark. The group started at the Pulitzer, where they became familiar with the work of Gordon Matta-Clark. As a way to get to know one another, they followed that with a group exercise in the conference room next door at CAMSTL.
Oasis is an organization that originated in St. Louis and now has a national presence. The organization provides unique learning opportunities for older adults. Oasis and the Pulitzer designed Saturday’s program, Arts and Aging, to provide a forum where medical students and older adults can come together to share a museum experience and discuss substantive issues relating to the art and the St. Louis community. The program’s goal is to encourage inter-generational communication and break down stereotypes regarding age.
Words like “re-purpose,” “transform” and “redefine” were introduced as participants encountered Matta-Clark’s work for the first time. After placing Gordon Matta-Clark and his work in a historical context (1968 in Paris, 1970s New York City), participants wandered through the exhibition on their own looking for examples of how Matta-Clark redefined (architecture, space), re-purposed (Garbage Wall) and transformed derelict buildings into works of art.
Afterward, the group headed to CAMSTL for a workshop. The med students and Oasis members worked together using paint chips to explore ideas about color. Each participant chose a paint chip either because of the color or its evocative name appealed to them. They then they talked about the various associations they had with that color and created something like a self-portrait using words. While sharing their responses we learned about individuals; Serena likes astronomy, and Robert described his colors with words starting with the letter “f.” Furthermore, there was the realization that we share common responses to certain colors across generations.