Intern Becca talked with Fitton's Creative Aging Painting Instructor, Chrissy Collopy to learn more about her art and career path that has led her to where she is today.
Chrissy is having a solo exhibit of her personal works showing: “In My Garden” at Miami University Art Building in the New Gallery. Dates TBA.
Q: What kind of art do you create?
A: I create paintings and installations using any medium from sewing to various drawing and painting materials; acrylics to oils. I mainly pull from my subconscious and then build on it with ideas as they appear as well as with physical materials. I think most people would describe my work as abstract, surreal, expressionism, or new contemporary or automatism.
Q: Who is your favorite artist or inspiration?
A: I have many artists that have inspired me through art history as well as more contemporary artists: Frida Khalo, Georgia O’keefe, Dorothy Tanning, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Mikalene Thomas, Dorielle Caimi, Naudline Cluvie Pierre… the list goes on.
Q: What led you to get your certification of completion for Creative Aging Training?
A: I have always been an artist and have consciously committed to that path since I was about 14. And being an artist I worked various jobs to support myself and my family. When I was younger one of those jobs was an activity assistant at a nursing facility. There was definitely a need for an art program that could use fine-tuning to the elder demographic. So when Like Lokon (Miami Scripps Gerontology) invited me to help build and become a part of a team in her OMA (Opening Minds through Art) project, it felt like a perfect fit. After working with OMA and receiving a Lead Artist Certificate, she invited me to apply, along with the OMA team, to receive our Creative Aging Certificate at the New York Settlement School in NY, NY. I no longer work with OMA but I value my experience and education I received from working in a wonderful, meaningful program.
Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?
A: Through the Fitton Center for Creative Arts I teach class (3 days a week), on those days I send my kids to school, then I do yoga at home (have to stay grounded). I then go over notes or ideas jotted down for demos or I do research on art topics, including but not limited to: painting techniques, artists through history that may have used those techniques, and color theory. I also watch YouTube videos that may pertain to certain subjects that have come up in class for refreshers, listen to art related podcasts, etc… Then I go to the Fitton Center or BTW and teach class. On my studio days, I could be working on any number of projects I have going on in my studios (painting and sculpture)…and there are many!
Q: How do you tailor art sessions to meet the students needs?
A: The way I teach the Creative Aging classes is really based on individuality and individual needs. In my class I have a range from beginning artists, to artists who want to get back into painting or have that structure/ discipline of a scheduled painting session each week. I also have students who are from the ages of 50 to 95 years young! So I set up class to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for students to come in and paint.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your career?
A: The most rewarding part of my career as a Creative Aging Painting Instructor is seeing the pride and happiness on my students faces after they accomplished painting a piece; when they’ve learned something new, and maybe they weren’t sure they could do it, or maybe it’s from the fact that they keep up the work and have become artists themselves! We have an art exhibit during the Fitton Center Season Launch showcasing our classes’ works and seeing all the beautiful art on the wall is such a celebration after knowing all the work and determination that has gone into it.