2015 National Mature Media Award WINNER

2015 National Mature Media Award WINNER
The Creative Landscape of Aging Wins a NMMA Award!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Famous Octogenarians in the Arts

These octogenarians have enriched our lives by sharing their talent and passion. They have strong creative careers fueled by continuous problem solving, social/business engagements and tenacity which has enabled them to enjoy their success in a long life of accomplishments. It is interesting to note that they all have multiple creative talents that were explored in their careers. These octogenarians are a testament to what neuroscience has shown; creative pursuits will continue to strengthen cognitive ability as we age.

Maya Angelou, 82, A remarkably talented poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist, Angelou has been a constant force in our society. She has been on two presidential committees and awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and 3 Grammy Awards. Dr. Angelou has also received more than 30 honorary degrees and is currently Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Harry Belafonte, 83, As an actor,singer and humanitarian, Belafonte's reputation is largely with his Calypso album that triggered new interest in Caribbean music. He sang on the hit 1985 single “We Are the World,” and the next year became UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador.

Mel Brooks, 84, Multi talented film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor, and producer, he is best known for his comic work and satires. Brooks received an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony award and the 2009 Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime contribution to the performing arts in American culture. He was husband of the late actress Anne Bancroft.

Carol Channing, 89, An actress and singer, Channing is probably best known for her performance on Broadway in Hello Dolly and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She received three Tony Awards, a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination and an honorary doctorate from California State University Stanislaus. She and her husband, Harry, established a foundation to support the arts in public schools.

Clint Eastwood, 80, As a director, actor, producer and composer, he is best known for his role in action and western films. Eastwood received five Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, two Cannes Film Festival awards, and five People's Choice Awards.

Frank Gehry, 81, A world renowned architect, Gehry lives in California but has dual Canadian/US citizenship. His most acclaimed works are the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; Experience Music Project in Seattle and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. A recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Vanity Fair also named him as "the most important architect of our age".

Jasper Johns, 80, Painter and Sculptor, Johns is best known for his American Flag paintings as well as the target and number and letter series. As a revolutionary artist, he also used everyday objects such as beer cans in his sculptures.

Cloris Leachman, 84, Actress and winner of eight Primetime Emmy awards, Cloris received more than any other performer. She was a contestant in 2008 on Dancing With The Stars, and at the age of 82, was the oldest contestant to dance on the series. In 2011, Leachman will co-star in a thriller called The Fields.

Jerry Lewis, 84,
Actor and Comedian best known for his slapstick movies with Dean Martin and his major fund raising telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 2009, he was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Claes Oldenburg, 81, As a sculptor of everyday objects, Oldenburg's public art installations are often very large scale replications of things in our lives such as a typewriter eraser, clothespin, and others. In 2000, he received an award from the National Medal of Arts and was recently commissioned by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)to create art work for its Lenfest Plaza. The sculpture will be 53 feet high in the form of a paintbrush with associated paint on the ground below.

Andre Previn, 81, A pianist, conductor, and composer, he received many honors. He won four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings. In 1996, he was appointed an honorary Knight of the Order of British Empire and received Kennedy Center Honors for his contributions to classical music and opera. In 2005 he received the international Glenn Gould Prize and in 2008 won Gramophone magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award for his work. This year, the Recording Academy gave Previn a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

Maurice Sendak, 82 An award winning writer and illustrator of children’s literature, Sendak is best known for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE which won a Caldecott Medal. His career included collaboration with Carole King and Jim Henson for television animation. Last year, the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia presented There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak.

Paul Taylor,80 As a dancer, he performed in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine, and then, as a choreographer, founded the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1954. He received many honors for his work including the Kennedy Center Honors, an Emmy Award, the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton, and the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts. He received three Guggenheim Fellowships and honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from multiple American universities. Taylor was also selected as an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Gloria Vanderbilt, 86, As an accomplished designer, artwork in her early career was licensed by Hallmark Cards (a paper based company) and by Bloomcraft (a textile company). Vanderbilt also designed for linens, china, glassware, flatware and scarves. Perhaps her design reputation is strongest as a spokeswoman for her designer blue jeans. She is a socialite and heiress who is also the mother of Anderson Cooper at CNN.

Betty White, 88, A comedian and talk show host, White won six Emmy Awards and was the first woman to receive an Emmy for game show hosting. In 2010, she became the oldest person on Saturday Night Live to be their guest host. White received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award and has been celebrated for her involvement with animal charities.

"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."
-Sophia Loren

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Imagination, Creativity & Confidence

It is the perfect triad: imagination, creativity and confidence. Imagination is the cognitive state of dreaming up new ideas or solution ns, creativity is the process of developing those innovative thoughts to action and confidence happens as a result of making those dreams a reality. It’s a simple equation that constitutes a complex series of events. It may take minutes, days or even years to produce the final project but completion provides closure and builds confidence. Self efficacy is an important concept here because it embraces the belief that your actions can make a difference in producing expected results.

We all have dreams and fantasies, hopes and aspirations and that makes us different from other living creatures. So what sets us apart from each other is that some people can raise their emotional capital and intellectual stamina to seize an opportunity to become innovative. Driven by a thirst for new challenges, they unconsciously disregard feelings of fear and inadequacy. These are people who embrace the unknown and understand that thinking outside the box is about finding the unpredictable, problem solving and being on the winning side of the creative experience.

In her book “When Walls Become Doorways”, Dr. Tobi Zausner writes about how difficult life events can transform an individual and their creative process. As a young woman, Frida Kahlo suffered massive bodily injuries from a bus accident and was restricted to bed for many months. Her mother had a special easel built that could be used by someone lying down and her father gave her oil paint. “Lying in bed, Kahlo started to create the paintings that would eventually make her famous” says Zausner. Kahlo channeled her passion and talent and became a celebrated artist.

Thanks to a dream Elias Howe had, he realized how to fasten the needle and cloth together on the sewing machine he was developing. "I was taken prisoner by a group of natives. They were dancing around with spears. As they were moving around me, I noticed their spears all had holes near their tips." Although the dream was frightening, he translated the dream to make his invention work. By placing a hole near the tip of the needle so thread could pass through, fabric could be sewn on the machine. This is a classic example of how imagination can initiate the creative process and result in confidence as a result of its success.

Sometimes being in a compelling profession inspires thoughts for another creative outlet. Both Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, ER television series, etc. ) and John Grisham (A Time to Kill, Pelican Brief, etc.) had careers in medicine and law respectively. In their work, both surely had “what-if” moments that developed in to a string of possibilities as a mental narrative. And that started their writing careers which spawned such popular novels that they left their professions and devoted themselves to writing. Grisham says “I seriously doubt I would ever have written the first story had I not been a lawyer. I never dreamed of being a writer. I wrote only after witnessing a trial.”

Sometimes a dream can be so prescient that it requires verification in reality. "I woke up with a lovely tune in my head," Paul McCartney recalled to his biographer, Barry Miles. "I thought, 'That's great. I wonder what that is?'" He got up that morning in May 1965, went to the piano, and began playing the melody that would become "Yesterday." While he really liked the tune, he had some reservations: "Because I'd dreamed it, I couldn't believe I'd written it." (U.S. News & World Report. May 15, 2006 print edition). It took 2 weeks to add lyrics and it became one of the most popular songs in history having been voted the #1 Pop song of all time by MTV and Rolling Stone Magazine. The song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Age and talent are not as important as drive in bringing your imagination to an active state of creativity. You can build up your confidence with each process and with every success, no matter how small. So dream, aspire, play and allow yourself to make plenty of mistakes. Be flexible, go with the flow, get lost experimenting. Find the fun, enjoy yourself and trust the process.


We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.
-Michael Crichton

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
-Vincent Van Gogh