Resilience and the Creative Soul: A Look at an Extraordinary Process

By Pamela Braverman Schmidt and Debra Sheets.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Adversity is part of the human experience, everyone faces hardships and suffering in the course of their lives. Much of the research on adversity is based on vulnerability and deficit models that emphasize stress-related pathologies and problems. Recently a paradigmatic shift has occurred towards a strengths-based model that focuses on adaptation and growth in response to stressors. This paper uses a strengths-based perspective to examine the adaptation of internationally acclaimed older artists to personally devastating circumstances (e.g., quadripilegia, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease). The paper illustrates how these artists triumph in the face of adversity through creative growth that imbues their lives with renewed meaning. The commitment of older artists to the creative process serves as a mediating factor to foster stress-related growth. It allows them to focus on their strengths, redefine their abilities and maintain a sense of identify and fulfillment in their lives. Creative endeavors provide a context for continuous self-invention that fosters adaptation and allows these artists to thrive in circumstances that are challenging and difficult.

Keywords: Older Adults, Resilience, Creativity

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.33-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.320MB).

Prof. Pamela Braverman Schmidt

Professor, Dept. of Early Childhood Education & Human Services, Bunker Hill Community College, Salem, Massachusetts, USA

Pamela Braverman Schmidt, M.Ed., LMHC, LCSW is a Professor of Human Services at Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, Massachusetts. She received her Masters in Education from Antioch University, Yellow Springs, Ohio. Professor Schmidt serves on the Leadership Council for the Mental Health and Aging Network for the American Society on Aging. She also served as clinical director of Positive Aging Services for Jewish Family Services of the North Shore in Salem, Massachusetts. She is a visual artist and was a recipient of an artist-in-residency award for the U.S. National Parks Service at Acadia National Park in Maine. Her paintings and collages have been featured in four exhibitions in 2009 and she was also a recipient of an award from the Marblehead Festival of the Arts in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe and The Gloucester Daily Times have published her paintings. Professor Schmidt’s research focuses on positive aging, resilience, trauma, and the creative process. Her articles have appeared in Generations, Southwest Journal of Aging, and Teaching for Our Times.

Dr. Debra Sheets

Associate Professor, Health Sciences, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Debra Sheets, PhD, MSN, RN-BC, CNE is an Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Victoria She received her doctorate in Gerontology and Public Policy from the University of Southern California. Dr. Sheets is an elected fellow of the Gerontological Society of America as well as the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). In the area of the humanities and arts, Dr. Sheets is a founding member and serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts, an affiliated journal of the Gerontological Society of America. Dr. Sheets’ research focuses on creativity and aging, health and functional risks of aging with physical disability, and geriatric nursing education. She is co-editor of Enduring Questions in Gerontology (Springer, 2006) and her articles have appeared in the Journal of Disability Policy Studies, Generations, Hallym International Journal of Aging, Southwest Journal of Aging, and Contemporary Gerontology.


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