Art Against Ageism is an alliance of creatives, artists, and activists committed to identifying, amplifying, and creating artistic endeavors that confront and address damaging stereotypes about age and aging.
A Tree Grows at Keswick
In Sept. 2021, Art Against Ageism partnered with Baltimore-based Keswick, a not-for-profit organization that provides a variety of wellness and long-term care services that enhance quality of life for older adults, to create an interactive art installation that raises awareness of ageism.
In the spirit of Yoko Ono’s global Wish Tree project, the (Aging Is) Living Tree was created to be an intergenerational installation that encourages participants to process what age means to them and to think about about how society views older adults. This collaborative endeavor asks individuals to respond to one of three questions through by writing their answers on a tag and hanging it on the tree, thus making it “bloom” with responses about age and aging.
Leveraging art and advocacy in this way helps to dismantle damaging stereotypes about aging and improve quality of life for older adults and others who are negatively affected by ageism.
You can create your own tree using this infographic HERE.
Interested in Creating Your Own Artistic Activism
Art Against Ageism exists not only to create and promote actions that tackle damaging stereotypes about age and aging in creative ways, but also to help others create their own campaigns that seek to raise awareness of, and dismantle, ageism.
How do we do this? In part, by suggesting resources about inspirational artistic actions. One excellent source is Actipedia, an open-access, user-generated database of creative activism. According to its website, “it’s a place to read about, comment upon, and share experiences and examples of how activists and artists are using creative tactics and strategies to challenge power and offer visions of a better society.”
Actipedia offers a deep well of case studies, organizations, initiatives, and articles about inspiring actions. “We believe that by learning from each other we can learn how to better change the world,” the site states.
We hope you find inspiration here as well.
The following projects are examples of artistic activism that confront and tackle ageism. These projects utilize at least one element of creative activism and serve as powerful inspiration for our own work at Art Against Ageism.
Age Friendly Vibes
After a career as a web developer, Jan Golden was inspired to start a stationery business that tackles ageism. Age-Friendly Vibes was born after she participated in a greeting card contest during the pandemic. She used her graphic design and tech skills, as well as her creativity, to create a line of age-friendly greeting cards. Instead of birthday cards with jokes about getting older or being old and frail, her cards celebrate age and make positive statements about age and birthdays. “The best part is seeing the reaction to the age-positive sentiments I put out there in the world,” says Golden. “Knowing that I may have a small part in celebrating, instead of dreading, a birthday is heart-warming.”
Instead of messages about how awful it is to get old, the Age Friendly Vibes new art prints are designed to dilute those messages with age-positivity.
The Pro-Age collection reinforces the idea that age is not a four-letter word, we are all aging gratefully, and most importantly we are part of a pro-age revolution.
The Aging is Living collection focuses on the concept that we are refined by age and the simple, yet profound idea that aging is living. The prints make it easy and stylish to put age-positivity out there in this world!
Reimagining Dementia Coalition
The Reimagining Dementia Coalition created an original song and video, “Let’s Reimagine,” to introduce the power of creativity in transforming the culture of dementia and invite people across the globe to join us in making a difference. Recognizing the power of the arts for social change, Reimagining Dementia: A Creative Coalition for Justice teamed up with Simon Law to create the song as part of a global campaign. The song features people living with dementia as soloists, chorus members, and through spoken word.
Changing the Narrative
Changing the Narrative is a strategic communications and awareness campaign that increases understanding of ageism and seeks to “change how people think, talk, and act about aging and ageism.” Among other things, Changing the Narrative partners with organizations to create campaigns that raise awareness of ageism and help to debunk stereotypes about age and being older.
Last year, the organization partnered with the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County, the Douglas County School District, and Douglas County Libraries, to create a multigenerational poetry contest to raise awareness about ageism and how it negatively affects everyone in the community.
The image here is one of several winners. To view all of the poems that won the Every Age Counts poetry contest, click HERE.
Age Without Ageism
This video is creatively and artfully produced to explain how fighting ageism can help us live longer — and make the world better. Hosted by Josh Kornbluth, an Atlantic fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute and Hellman visiting artist at UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center.
Ageism in Health Care Infographic
The clever and creative infographic above appears on the Regis College Doctor of Nursing Practice website. In addition to demonstrating the types of ageism that exists within health care settings, it examines the causes and affects of ageism. It also offers tips for advance practice nurses to combat ageism.
I Too Am Qualified
Started by a husband and wife team of photographers who have faced aged discrimination themselves, the goal of I Too Am Qualified is to raise awareness of the prevalence of age discrimination in the workplace and to let people know they are not alone.
The site includes photos of people who have experienced age discrimination in the workplace or during the hiring process as they hold up signs with messages about their qualifications. “We want people to know older workers should be valued. Ageism should not be normalized,” the site proclaims.
Old People Are Cool
Created to confront “harmful ageism we believe prevents our communities from reaching their maximum potential,” the Old People Are Cool Project has produced and distributed thousands of eponymously named stickers and sells tees and other products that bear the pro-aging phrase.
The website also invites readers to take the Old People Are Cool Oath and encourages colleagues, friends and family to do the same.
Help Age International
Help Age International, a global network of organizations that promotes the “right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives,” created videos like the one here to help dispel damaging myths about older adults. In their effort to “break free from ageism,” Help Age posts their creative on social media and asks its network of organizations to share the videos to “ensure everyone knows how to recognize stereotyping and discrimination, and help us inspire others to take action to challenge it.”
City of San Francisco’s
The San Francisco Reframing Aging Campaign is a collaborative effort to “increase public awareness of ageism, disrupt negative stereotypes of aging, and connect residents with supportive resources and services.” Among other resources and articles, the campaign’s website asks viewers to share a pledge to end ageism on social media.
The City of Toronto
The photo above is an excellent example of creative activism that confronts ageism. These posters were placed throughout the City of Toronto in 2019 as part of a campaign that tackles ageism in the workplace. (Note: it appears that the campaign has been halted as the website has some dead links. But we think the idea is fabulous!)
Eff Their Aging Standards
According to its website, Eff Their Aging Standards is a “dispensary of age positivity, art, and adornments, made with uplifting purpose for the 50 and over crowd.” The artists, who is referred to as “Tracy” on the site, notes that she designs “to inspire 50+ women, one daily drawing at a time.” She notes that she creates “all art, slogans, quotes and content on my Instagram + blog and they are all original to Eff Their Aging Standards.”
The Passions Project
These beautiful images, from photographer and anti-ageist activist Heidi Wagner, are part of The Passions Project, a portrait series that captures the essence of older adults doing what they love to do. Through her lens, Wagner makes visible what is often unseen — “a new view of age and aging that includes vitality, independence and meaning.” Wagner’s portraits are displayed in many senior living communities around the country. The project is amplified via its social media accounts.
Age In America
Age In America is a blog and social media campaign that uses storytelling and images to reframe negative views of aging into positive narratives that affirm the vitality, wellbeing, and contentment that often comes with being older. Created by Art Against Ageism Co-Founder Meg LaPorte, Age In America promotes stories, messages, and images that depict older adults not as a one dimensional cohort of people but as human, interesting, and complicated individuals, just like all of us.
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