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Artist Exhibition Focuses on Ageism: We ARE Here: More Than Just a Number

A new art exhibition is opening at Cultivate that focuses on the issue of ageism in the arts.

Titled 'We ARE Here: More than Just a Number,' this thought-provoking exhibition will challenge viewers to reconsider their assumptions about aging and opportunities in the arts. Through a diverse array of artworks, including painting, sculpture, drawings, and photography, this exhibition seeks to challenge traditional perceptions of aging and bring to light the struggles faced by those affected by ageism.

This exhibition was curated by the Cultivate Curatorial Board, a team of established curators and artists based in West Michigan. Together they create a space to share dialogue about ageism by using art as an accessible platform for dialogue and reflection.

Bettina Cousineau, Exhibit Specialist at the Ford Presidential Museum and Cultivate Curatorial Board member, wrote this exhibition statement as she herself is an artist who navigates this terrain.

What is ageism in the arts?

Ageism in the arts refers to the exclusion, discrimination, or marginalization of individuals based on their age. This can manifest in many forms, such as preventing certain age groups from attending an event or denying access to resources that would help them advance their careers. Ageism can also be found in hiring practices or curation decisions by museums and galleries.

Ageism is a form of prejudice that is especially prevalent in the art world. Older artists may not receive the same level of recognition and opportunities as younger ones, while younger artists may be overlooked due to their lack of experience or perceived inexperience. Ageism can also be used to exclude individuals based on their physical appearance. The result of these exclusionary practices can lead to fewer opportunities for older artists to share their art and stories, which limits the diversity of art that is available for public consumption.

The Exhibition

The exhibition, titled "We ARE Here: More than Just a Number," will be on display at the Cultivate Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Featuring work from eleven local, regional, and nationally renowned artists, this powerful exhibit sheds light on the societal issues of ageism and how it is reflected in our culture.

Each artist shares work and a statement that shares their personal experience of ageism. The exhibition will focus on the physical, mental, and spiritual consequences of ageism in today’s world. Each artist brings a unique perspective and style to the pieces included in the show, providing an insightful and provocative look into the topic of ageism.

The works included in the show range from photography to paintings and drawings, to sculptures and collages. One of the works in this exhibition is a painting by Grand Rapids artist Elaine Dulcher, who is a founding member of Tanglefoot Building Artists, where she has grown her studio practice since 1988. Her first solo show (1980) was at the now-closed Grand Rapids Gallery for Women’s Art, just blocks from where Cultivate Grand Rapids now stands. Another artist is Dolores Slowinski, from Detroit, who shares that: "At 75, my imagination is still on fire with ideas for new work."

The exhibition is free and open to the public. The show opens on Friday, April 7 and will run until May 26, 2023. There will be an opening reception on Friday, April 7, from 5-9pm where visitors may meet many of the artists and hear more about their work. This is a rare opportunity to explore ageism in a meaningful way and come away with a better understanding of the issues.

The Artists

The exhibition will feature the work of eleven artists, each of whom will bring their own unique perspective on ageism to the show.

Richard Barnett (Thousand Oaks, California) is a figurative oil painter who is well known for painting highly complex scenes that include groups of people. He has exhibited nationally and internationally since 2015.

Boisali Biswas (West Bloomfield, Michigan) is a studio artist who works in mixed-media fibers. Raised in India, her formative years during her BFA were spent at Visva-Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan. She completed her MFA at Bowling Green State University. Living in this country for over three decades, and adapting to Western styles and inspirations in concert with her background has made her Art into a cauldron of multicultural assemblages that are a unique feast for the eyes.

W.S. Cranmore (Portland, Oregon) is an internationally collected contemporary artist working mainly in geometric abstraction and expressionism. W.S.'s work has been exhibited nationally and is in both national and international permanent collections.

Elaine Dalcher (Grand Rapids, Michigan) Elaine is a founding member of Tanglefoot Building Artists, where she has grown her studio practice since 1988, and where she continues to paint, exhibit her work, and teach. She shares "In my mind, age has ripened my knowledge and ability to continuously hone my skill and vision. I have probably encountered more discrimination for being a lifelong queer woman than for being an old woman. I don’t feel old, but age has compromised my health over the years. This more than anything has challenged my energy and creative process."

Maureen Janson Heintz (Madison, Wisconsin) is a veteran choreographer, movement specialist, photographer, and director working in a broad stylistic range of theatre, opera, dance and film. Her work has evolved as a result of aging, as she shares that she moved from a dancer to a choreographer, to a photographer. Viewers can see this influence in her work, in both movement and the history her work holds.

Judith Hopkins (Thousand Oaks, California) is a multi-media artist and writer. Her large-scale, expressive charcoal drawing of a woman stands as a center of interest within the exhibition. Her work has been shown nationally.

Madeline Kaczmarczyk (Rockford, Michigan) is an award-winning Michigan artist known for her mixed media teapots incorporating thousands of glass seed beads on the surface of her hand-built clay teapots. She has a practice centered in West Michigan as she has been a Studio Artisan since 1975, working as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Art at Aquinas College, a Studio Manager at the Cook Art Center, and an Adjunct Professor of Art at Grand Rapids Community College.

Leon Lou (Grand Rapids, Michigan) was born and raised in Shanghai, China. When he was a teenager, he dreamed of becoming an artist and spent many after-school hours on drawing and painting under the tutelage of art teachers who were influenced by the French and Russian academic traditions before the disastrous cultural revolution. However, life has its own logic. Decades later he became a tenured professor of psychology at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He did not pick up paintbrushes again until about ten years ago when he felt the irrepressible urge to do what he loved to do in his teenage years.

Estelle Roberge (Magdalena, New Mexico) is a painting and collage artist. Her works have been included in the New Mexico Acclaimed Artist Initiative and the Eco Art Project, The Bristol Art Museum, and the Kolaj Festival in New Orleans. Currently, she is preparing for three upcoming solo exhibitions at the Sun Valley Museum of Art in Idaho, The Charles C. Thomas Gallery at Maine College of Art, as well as the Kind of a Small Array in Magdalena, New Mexico. Her work is also featured in several private collections in California, New Mexico, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Idaho, and Canada.

Dolores Slowinski (Detroit, Michigan) is a long-time resident of Detroit, and has a BFA in weaving and ceramics from Wayne State University. Her work experience includes art writing for national, regional, and local print and electronic magazines as well as serving as arts administrator and resource person at the state and local level for over 40 years.

​Lynn Stephenson (Traverse City, Michigan) is a Colored Pencil Artist. Lynn has worked in colored pencils since first exposed to the medium at The University of Michigan where she earned her BFA degree. Lynn has had multiple pieces juried into the Colored Pencil Society of American’s Annual International Shows and is working on signature status within that group. Her art was published in Best of Colored Pencils 4 by Rockport Publishing and has been used in national magazine advertisements. Lynn works in a studio on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan, where she finds endless inspiration.

The message

Ageism in the arts is a pervasive issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. 'We ARE Here: More than Just a Number' seeks to challenge existing stereotypes about age and aging through the works of these eleven renowned artists.

By showcasing a wide range of perspectives and artistic styles, the exhibition strives to offer visitors a unique experience that encourages them to reflect upon their own attitudes and biases surrounding age and aging. This thought-provoking exhibition is sure to spark debate and open minds, as well as hearts, to the possibility of age diversity and inclusion in the arts.

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