Lata 65 is a highly unusual urban art workshop in Lisbon, Portugal, that teaches elderly women the basics of street art. Although graffiti is generally perceived as a part of youth culture, the workshop has introduced the quirky art form to over 100 senior citizens around the city. It gives groups of elderly women the chance to team up with prominent street artists and literally paint the town red. They bring color and charm to otherwise neglected and run-down neighborhoods, by making their own stencils and creating their own street tags.
Lara Pebble Rodrigues, architect and founder of Lata 65 said that her goal is to pass on street art to the elderly, using it as a tool to bridge the gap between generations. It is also a way of speaking out against ageism and ageist stereotypes. She strongly believes that “age is just a number,” and hopes to demonstrate that urban art has the “power to encourage, promote, and enhance the democratisation of access to contemporary art.”
Lara, who also founded ‘WOOL’, an urban art festival, revealed that the idea for Lata 65 came about when she met a fan of the festival over coffee. They got around to speaking about the contribution of the elderly towards art, and also about street art, and eventually managed to marry the two subjects.
She designed the two-day workshop to consist of modules, the first of which teaches participants about the theory and history of graffiti art. Later, each participant gets to create their own ‘tag’ or street name, and choose the theme that they would like to work with. In the next module, they are taught how to design and cut stencils that will be used to create the final piece. The last module has participants experiment with spray paint in outdoor locations.
Lara recommends that participants extend the workshop to three days, because it “allows more rhythmic work, greater understanding, and more effective results.” She says that the initial part of the workshop is mostly spent in the deepening of ideas and answering questions about what people see on the street every day. This is an important step, according to her, to destroy the prejudices associated with street art. The later part of the workshop is geared more towards the practical aspects of the art form.
Lata 65 was intended to be a one-time workshop, but the creativity and potential of her students gave Lara “immense pleasure.” So she decided to conduct more workshops, to share her passion for urban art with elderly groups.