The Mobile Art Program (MAP) was founded by artists who felt that older people were being left out of art education and they have been providing art activities to seniors with disabilities in Austin since 2007. MAP works with people 55 years and older in nursing homes, Alzheimer respite programs, adult health care centers, and those who live independently. By sharing their talents with the community, MAP participants experience a concrete evidence of accomplishment and resulting self-esteem; a deeper understanding of their own past and present experience; and increased social interaction and friendship in a group setting. Learning is a continuous lifelong process that plays a role in keeping mentally active and promoting personal development.

The aging population is one of the most important demographic trends affecting Texas, with the fourth-largest population of adults (3.1 million) over age 60. A recent Brookings Institution analysis reported that Austin’s 55 and older population grew at a rate that was among the highest in the nation, and that the Austin metro area pre-senior population (55-64) grew at an astonishing rate of 110% between 2000 and 2010. The number of older residents living in poverty has increased 42 percent in Central Texas over the last 10 years, according to the U.S. census, and demographers say Austin is seeing the first signs of a growing wave that's been dubbed the "silver tsunami."

MAP inspires and enables older adults to learn, make and share the arts in ways that are novel, complex and socially engaging. Through carefully designed classes led by experienced teaching artists, participants experience a renewed sense of accomplishment and resulting self-esteem; a deeper understanding of their own past and present experience; and increased social interaction and friendship in a group setting.

Andrew Steptoe, Director of the Institute of Epidemiology University College London, reports that, "Social contact is a fundamental aspect of human existence. The scientific evidence is that being socially isolated is probably bad for your health, and may lead to the development of serious illness and a reduced life span. We need to keep an eye on the social connections of older people, since maintaining social contacts among seniors and reducing isolation may be particularly important for their future survival.”

Mary Lou Ledesma, age 82,

“I didn’t want to give up (after having two strokes) and that’s a way a lot of the ladies here feel. Mobile Arts is a wonderful program for people our age.”

group at a table painting
women proudly holding up her painting
Self portrait of patty next to photo used for portrait
group of women holding up thier artwork from class