Dec. 3 & 4: Creative Aging Conference


2020 Creative Aging Conference
“Perspectives on Legacy”


Thursday, December 3 and Friday, December 4, 2020
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Perspectives on Legacy is a two-day online conference designed for social and healthcare professionals, artists, educators, and lifelong learners to explore the topic of legacy from the perspective of making a positive difference in an imperfect world. The conference will bring together speakers from multiple disciplines and life experiences, inspiring participants to consider what legacy means to them and how they can meaningfully shape the world left to future generations.

The Frye Art Museum and Centrum are pleased to continue their partnership to bring the 2020 Creative Aging Conference to participants in Seattle and Port Townsend, together. Continuing education clock hours will be available for participants. Please check the Continuing Education box on registration form and additional information will be sent closer to the conference date.

Conference Fee:
$50 for Centrum donors and $75 for non-donors


Keynote – Leaving a Mark: The Healing Art of Remembering Forward
Eddie Gonzalez, Associate Director, Civil Conversations & Social Healing, On Being Project

Leaving a legacy is deep work, asking us to respond to big questions such as: What does it mean to be human? and How do we want to live? Legacy can also be a way to take up the hard moral and ethical questions of our time and personally engage in civic work that aims to create the world we want for ourselves and our children while composing a life of greater meaning, purpose, and connection throughout our lifespan. Drawing from the archive of the On Being radio show and podcast, Eddie Gonzalez will invite attendees to interact in this work, reflecting on the past as a way to understand the present, finding wisdom in the legacies of others, and considering how our lives might be used to leave a lasting mark for social and environmental good.

Eddie Gonzalez has a keen interest in the dance between inner and outer life, the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell each other. He joined the On Being Project after a decade of work around stories and spiritual care, first as a writer and hospice chaplain, and more recently at StoryCorps, where he worked across the United States and Canada to help individuals and organizations create space for reflective conversations through community-based storytelling and audio recording projects. Based in New York City, Eddie believes deeply in the power of collaboration and connecting the growing ecosystem of projects, leaders, and listeners within the On Being community.


An Imagination Fully Inhabited: The Living Legacy of W.S. Merwin
Sonnet Kekilia Coggins, Executive Director, The Merwin Conservancy

When Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin died in March 2019, he left a legacy of unbounded imagination, insight, and literary genius. He also left another gift: an exuberant, ever-evolving palm forest thriving on the northern coast of Maui, one that he beckoned into being from “agricultural wasteland” through daily practice and care. Both his writing and his garden were expressions of his creative ingenuity, rooted in a deep sense of wonder about the natural world, and extending beyond the idea of hope to actively care for this world. Merwin’s living legacy is to leave us with a question to ask ourselves, and to return to again and again: How can we engage our imaginations to full capacity, both individually and collectively, to envision and enact the renewal of our world?

Sonnet Kekilia Coggins is the Executive Director of The Merwin Conservancy, in Ha’ikū, Maui. There, she leads efforts to conserve and share W.S. Merwin’s 19-acre palm forest and the ecologically conscious home that he built and made there with his wife Paula Merwin. Sonnet draws on professional experience in art museums including Williams College Museum of Art and Denver Art Museum to cultivate a public humanities practice built on an abiding passion for fostering creative agency, as well as connecting people with the power of place. Her work is fueled by a deep curiosity about the world, creativity, and the human spirit.


Past Selves
Sarah Fetterman, artist, Sarah Fetterman Studios

In this illustrated talk, Sarah Fetterman will discuss how her work Past Selves developed from an inquisitive piece about the transience of memory into a deeply personal mirror to her experience of losing her grandmother to dementia. Past Selves began as dance performance and evolved into a woven tapestry visualizing the layering and loss of memory. As a legacy to her grandmother, Past Selves is testimony that the stories and impact of people with dementia have on others will persist long after their own memories fade.

Sarah Fetterman is a Seattle-based performative sculptor. Her work has been shown at Seattle Center, Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), Soil Gallery, Collective Vision’s Gallery, and Hybrid Space. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the 2017 GAP grant and 2018 City Artist Grant, which was used to create the Past Selves tapestry.


Keeping Alive the Stories of a Community
Tom Ikeda, Founding Executive Director, Densho

How will a story be told when the last survivor of a traumatic event is no longer with us? As we approach a period with no remaining first-person witnesses, what can we do to preserve authentic memories? These were the questions confronting the Japanese American community as it saw the disappearance of its elders, who lived through the WWII Japanese American incarceration. Tom Ikeda will share the experience of preserving and sharing 1,000 interviews and how these stories “rhyme” with injustices we see today.

Tom Ikeda is the founding Executive Director of Densho, a non-profit organization started in 1996 to preserve and share the history of the WWII Japanese American incarceration to promote justice and equity today. He has conducted over 250 video-recorded, oral history interviews with Japanese Americans. Tom has received numerous awards for his community and historical contributions, including the Humanities Washington Award, the National JACL Japanese American of the Biennium Award, the Microsoft Alumni Integral Fellows Award, and the Robert Gray Medal from the Washington State Historical Society.


Leaving a Trace: Our Legacy Stories
Carol Kummet, LICSW, MTS, Palliative Care Social Worker, UW Medical Center
Dr. Katie Schlenker D.O., UWMC Palliative Care Physician, UW Medical Center

This interactive session will be an opportunity for conference participants to reflect on and to begin to create their own legacies, as well as learn how to guide legacy work with family members, friends, or patients. Real-life examples will be shared by Carol Kummet and Dr. Katie Schlenker from their work with seriously ill patients who have created their own legacies. These examples will show the many creative ways that people have left their imprint on the world, and will be used to generate ideas on being intentional about creating one’s own legacy. The presenters will expand the definition of legacy work and help make the practice a part of participants’ daily lives.

Carol Kummet is a Palliative Care Social Worker at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). She came to UWMC in 2010 with 18 years of hospice social work and bereavement counseling experience. Carol loves assisting patients in telling their stories, which highlight their unique definition of quality of life and impact their medical care. She has a Master in Social Work degree from Boston University and a Master in Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School.

Katie Schlenker, DO is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the UW Division of General Internal Medicine and attends on the inpatient palliative care service at UWMC. She earned her DO degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, completed her internal medicine residency at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, and a palliative medicine fellowship at the University of Washington. Katie joined the UWMC Palliative Care Service in 2013, where she has extensive experience working with complex cardiac and oncology patient populations.


Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art, Seattle Art Museum

In 1973, John Lennon and Yoko Ono founded Nutopia, a country with no land, no borders, no passports, and subject only to the laws invoked by the lyrics in the song “Imagine.” Where are the Nutopias in the world today? If you look carefully, there are artistic centers of Nutopian thought that take different forms—some micro, some conceptual, and others fully operational. As predictions of the future often tend toward the grim, these centers in Africa, Australia, Thailand, and Antarctica offer what utopias are supposed to be—a legacy that unleashes new thinking about what might be.

After spending her teenage years in Liberia, West Africa, Pam McClusky has always sought international interactions. She is Curator of African and Oceanic Art at the Seattle Art Museum and has organized national exhibition tours such as Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, and local displays including Mood Indigo: Textiles from Around the World and Billabong Dreams. In recent years, her admiration for the confidence of Afro-futurist thought and Australian aboriginal visionaries has led her to look carefully for utopias that are not getting the attention they deserve.


A limited number of scholarships are available at a reduced rate. Please contact Centrum for application instructions.  (360) 385-3102 x117.

Perspectives on Legacy is organized by the Frye Art Museum and presented in partnership with Centrum, with generous support from the estate of M. Jean Fisher.


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