The below content was submitted by Susan Riley, director of the Mamaroneck Public Library.
is proud to offer senior citizens in our community an eight-session workshop that focuses on memory, art and writing. Workshop participants will select memorable photographs from their own collections, and use them to tell, write, and illustrate stories from their lives. Writing prompts, textual and visual exercises, and group sharing will stimulate individual reflection and help participants organize their thoughts and photos.
The edited texts and photos will be combined into individual printed books that will honor and celebrate the participants’ lives. This particular art form will commemorate and pass down the experience and accrued wisdom of the eldest members of our community. We want to give seniors a chance to share their life stories with each other and, as they reach the end of their lives, with their family members. Photographs will be used to spur creativity and recollection.
Although collecting photos in scrapbooks is common, it can be difficult as the years go by, even for family members, to identify the people in the photos, what a photo depicts, and why it was taken. By taking the extra step of compiling each participant’s stories and photos in permanent book form, we will help ensure that at least some of these stories will live on and be passed to future generations.
Participants will gain a multidimensional understanding of how stories are told and the ways in which art and memory intersect. They will learn how to write about milestone events in their lives and tap into the expressive power of photographs. They also will learn about the limits of both words and images, and ways of meaningfully connecting them. They will learn how to tell a story—verbally, textually, and visually—and how to plan, edit, and publish an illustrated book. Most significantly, they will be given an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate their personal histories, which will be commemorated in a permanent book form that can be shared with their families and friends.
This course will provide numerous intentional opportunities for meaningful social engagement. It has been designed to enable participants to maintain and expand their connection to their own histories, share them with family members and friends, and connect with other class participants. Each session will include one-on-one, small-group and/or large-group sharing and discussion. Exercises that focus on deep listening—to oneself and to others—will be presented regularly.
Participants will read aloud from their work, classmates’ work, and literature. Everyone will be encouraged to help plan and implement the culminating celebration. Refreshment breaks at every session will further enhance a sense of community and fellowship.
The instructor for this free workshop, Judith Dupré, a resident of Mamaroneck and active library patron, is a New York Times bestselling author of 10 books of nonfiction and creative nonfiction. Her expertise in the art of the illustrated book has been recognized internationally. She has taught numerous writing workshops that emphasize writing as a tool of self-understanding. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she focused on the nature and ethics of community building.
There is a limit of 15 participants, and priority will be given to residents of the Village of Mamaroneck. Participants must be 55 or older and must commit to attending all meetings. There is no charge for the workshop, which is being made possible by a $3,000 grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, with additional support from the Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation, and is administered in partnership with Westchester Library System, Lifetime Arts Inc. and the American Library Association's Public Programs office.
For more information, or to register for this program, please call the Mamaroneck Public Library at 914-698-1250 *3.