Images on this page courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum. Photos by Airi Katsuta.
Working creatively with aging Canadian war veterans in the mid-1990’s gave visual artist Tessa Windt the opportunity to learn firsthand the impact creative engagement can have on older adults. In 2009 she resumed her creative work with older adults with the project Parcel Post, a 6-site community-based project in which 60 older adults living across the state of North Carolina collaborated on 60 artworks.
This project solidified Windt’s commitment to working with older adults; since then she has worked with individuals aged 55 to 103, from active independent recent retirees to individuals facing physical and cognitive challenges, in settings as broad as senior centers, adult day centers, long-term care facilities, and arts venues; exploring the opportunities found within moments of creative engagement to build connection and address the isolation faced by many older adults.
Windt has worked with the Mesa Arts Center on their Creative Aging Engagement program since 2011, developing and coordinating visual arts projects with older adults at several sites in Mesa. Projects commissioned by the Mesa Arts Center reconsider formal abstraction in relation to layering of material, creative process and the stories elicited by the process of making. Since 2015 Windt has been the Artist-in-Residence for the Phoenix Art Museum’s Arts Engagement Program, a program for older adults with memory loss and their care partners. Between 2016 and 2018, she served as a mentor artist to the first and second Teaching Artist Institutes for the Arizona Commission on the Arts’ AZ Creative Aging Initiative.
I am endlessly attracted to the undulations, mobilities and lethargies of cloth. Continual arrangement and re-arrangement of cloth draw my work back to the here-and-now, to the back-and-forth, to-and-fro, rock-and-roll of materiality, yours and mine.
I revel in arrangement as a means to re-combine material and pictorial, literal and formal, visceral and ethereal. Reaching back to the endeavours of Modernism, I employ the strategies of formal abstraction to propose intersections between decoration and Modernism, and make palpable the tension between the body and abstraction.