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Volume 24, Number 10 — October 2017

Age, The Arts & Education: Ceramics & Photography

Alma Rigby loves to photograph nature, and to create ceramic fairy houses and bird houses, foreground.
Alma Rigby loves to photograph nature, and to create ceramic fairy houses and bird houses, foreground.

By ANGELA WAMPLER | August 26, 2008

Alma Rigby proudly admits she's 73 years old, but she looks much younger, perhaps because she "feels" young and stays active. She travels, sews, and works in her yard.

She says, "I love to do things with young people," including leading clay activities and reading books to her grandson's classmates in elementary school.

For five years, she has audited arts classes at Virginia Intermont College, from ceramics to photography to computer classes. In VI's ceramicsclasses, Rigby has made several fairy houses and bird houses for her garden, and bowls and candleholders for her home.

Rigby recalls when she was a little girl: "I used to like to play with mud and make tables and chairs out of mud. [As an adult] I've always liked pottery and bought a few pieces."

When she heard about VI's program for seniors,she took one semester of ceramics classes and got
hooked. "I just love it. We work on the wheel and do a lot of hand-building."

She describes her ceramic work as "primitive pottery" — "everything I make looks like something in nature: dead stumps, mushrooms, and leaves."

Rigby says her "second love" is photography, so she began taking those classes, too. She takes pictures of nature: landscapes, birds, insects, you name it. She recently began using a digital camera.

When we talked with Rigby, she was watching hummingbirds and hoped to see a baby red-headed woodpecker coming back to her bird feeder. She is very proud of a photograph she took of an owl that lives in the woods near her home.

Outside the classroom, Rigby volunteers as an usher for Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va. and cooks for Meals on Wheels. Before her husband passed away, the couple frequently enjoyed ballroom dancing. Over the years, she raised two children and had a beauty salon.

"I can't imagine not doing anything, or not having something you like to do," she exclaims. "If I didn't do pottery, I'd be busy doing something else."

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MEET LOCAL SENIORS who are passionate about The Arts and education.

JOAN HORSCH, 76, has participated in the Arts Array Film Discussions for 10 years: "The film discussions are really interesting because someone else always sees something you didn't see or has an extremely different impression of what the ending means."

REBECCA HARRINGTON
, 64, has been swept away in The Barter Experience: "I almost didn't go see Dracula, thinking 'how many times do I need to see that production?' But I went to the theatre and I'm so glad I did."

CAROL BELL
, 67, joins in discussions at SVHEC about women writers: "Some people mention other books. Everyone does away with news things to read and a new focus on the Appalachian region and the writers."

ANNE ARMENTROUT
, 60, loves words so Improvisation & Creative Movement is right up her alley: "The class provides exercises not only for the body, but also for the mind and imagination."

SEAN O'SULLIVAN
, 87, views the College for Older Adults as "a jewel in the mountains." He says, "It's like a social mixer, also. I've met people there that I would not have met otherwise."

PROGRAMS
for older adults available in the region.

HISTORIC EXAMPLES:
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to the main story: "The Arts & the Brains of Older Adults."