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Interchange – Memory In My Hands: Folk Art and Aging


We’re joined in the studio by Jon Kay to discuss his recent book Folk Art & Aging: Life-Story Objects and Their Makers.

Kay makes the strong point that

Growing old doesn’t have to be seen as an eventual failure but rather as an important developmental stage of creativity. Offering an absorbing and fresh perspective on aging and crafts, Jon Kay explores how elders choose to tap into their creative and personal potential through making life-story objects. Carving, painting, and rug hooking not only help seniors to cope with the ailments of aging and loneliness but also to achieve greater satisfaction with their lives. Whether revived from childhood memories or inspired by their capacity to connect to others, meaningful memory projects serve as a lens for focusing on, remaking, and sharing the long-ago. These activities often help elders productively fill the hours after they have raised their children, retired from their jobs, and/or lost a loved one. These individuals forge new identities for themselves that do not erase their earlier lives but build on them and new lives that include sharing scenes and stories from their memories.

Jon Kay is IU Professor of Practice and Director of Traditional Arts Indiana in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology.

Bob Taylor, Gustav Potthoff, Marian Sykes, John Schoolman, Milan Opacich

Marian Sykes (Fairfield Arts)
Milan Opacich (Building a Prima with Milan/Tamburitza All-Stars)

"Little Italy" rug by Marian Sykes. Image courtesy of Traditional Arts Indiana.
“Little Italy” rug by Marian Sykes. Image courtesy of Traditional Arts Indiana.

Traditiona Arts Indiana
Jon Kay’s YouTube Channel
Gustav Potthoff: “Lest We Forget” Film Production Project
The Colorful Canes of John Schoolman

“Grandma’s Hands” by Merry Clayton
“Rockin’ Chair” by Mildred Bailey
“Old and In the Way” by Hazel Dickens
“September Song” by Sarah Vaughan

eliot-weinbergerNEXT TIME
Eliot Weinberger’s The Ghosts of Birds and a reissue of 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (with More Ways).

Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Board Engineer: Jennifer Brooks
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

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