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Creativity and the arts!

by Judy Wagenblast, ALL member
Judy Wagenblast

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. So do it.”

The two people who spoke the words above seem to have similar thoughts. The first comes from Andy Warhol, who achieved fame with his pop art prints and films. The second comes from one of the most celebrated and successful novelists in the last 50 years, Kurt Vonnegut.

If they were alive today, their age would put them both in the same generation as me and many of the other members of the Academy of Lifelong Learning at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield. Our ages range from 55 to 97, and we plan our programs to match our diverse interests! Each month, members individually select from 12 to 15 varied activities to participate in, reflecting the multitude of topics we want to know more about and activities we each want to try. 

In recent years, we have added more focus on regional and national historical events and people. In 2024 ALL’s History Hunters program will help us learn more about UNESCO Heritage sites throughout the world, and another will introduce us to little-known female artists of Illinois. A dedicated group of members organized a science series about climate changes affecting Illinois and then another on intimacy and aging. This spring we are planning programs related to the solar eclipse that will happen on April 8, 2024. Learning activities will connect the sun to literature, time, invention and plein air painting. 

ALL is placing emphasis on the arts this year. Several members allowed us to display quilts they had made at our annual chilli event last fall, and we recently held a showing of many kinds of visual art created by 15 members, including paintings, knitting, crochet, embroidery, rug making, fabric montages, photography, ceramics and mixed media. Introductory workshops in some of these creative areas are planned for the coming months, starting with a “make-it and take-it” session themed for Valentine cards or artwork.

Why this burst of artmaking and viewing? Because our minds remain curious even after our years of official “work” come to an end. Because we get to know one another better when we share what we have created, and ALL supports social interaction. Because we rejoice in creative expression!

Already this membership year, ALL folks were reminded of the power of drama to help us understand human interactions and emotions with two theatrical activities to attend locally, “Enough: Plays to End Gun Violence” and “Outraged: Terror in Springfield 1908.” 

We’re planning to attend a film festival this year and are researching upcoming music performances. ALL program planners have frequently extended invitations to learn about other community organizations who build opportunities in the arts, especially in the last 25 years when the growth of interest in the arts has brought new facilities and talent to the area. We support this cultural flourish and also hope to learn more from individual artists in the Springfield area, performing or demonstrating and talking about their creative processes. Our own monthly “Around Town” visits will include a spring session where we will hear area high school students read ‘Poetry Out Loud” as part of a state competition. We support young people and show them how much we value lifelong learning!  

Our Academy of Lifelong Learning experiences benefit us primarily in two ways. We have the opportunity to attend programs covering a variety of subjects and sometimes featuring a speaker, a panel discussion or a visit to a particular location. When a group of ALL members are interested in an ongoing study or activity, we can form special interest groups. Our current groups include bikers, walkers, writers, film buffs and, most recently, new groups for pickleball enthusiasts, pinochle players and Mahjong learners. 

Who knows what’s next? Join us for some fulfilling and life affirming expressions, and to allow what is within each of us to blossom. After all, ALL agrees with the thoughts of the multi-talented Maya Angelou. “I think that each one of us is born with creativity.”

Call 217-786-2432 or visit the Academy of Lifelong Learning webpage to find out more about the Academy of Lifelong Learning and its multitude of program offerings.