Step aside, graffiti bros: these spray can-clutching older women in Lisbon are giving you a run for your money.
There’s a graffiti crew on the scene that’s all over the streets of Lisbon, and they’re not your usual youngsters. This team of street art lovers, also known as LATA 65, is here to prove to everyone that age stereotypes will be crushed, one spray can at a time.
LATA 65 is a Portugal-based workshop that has turned seniors (ages ranging anywhere between 59-90) into street artists by providing them with not only the right tools, location and equipment but also with support and an easygoing environment— letting them dive headfirst into becoming street artists themselves.
While organizing a street art festival, the founder of the project, Lara Seixo Rodrigues, noticed older people were just as interested as their younger counterparts.
“They were our companions at all hours, day and night, asking us questions about how it was done and commenting on what the paintings represented,” she told The Guardian. “I realised there was a real interest in street art among this age group.”
Lara’s workshops begin in the classroom with the history of street art, moving on to teach students how to cut stencils, perfect technique and make up a tag. The workshop culminates in a group trip to a designated wall, donated by the Lisbon city council’s Galeria de Arte Urbana, where they get to practice their painting skills legally.
The workshop and education that comes with it don’t just function as a pleasurable pastime: it’s just as well a step towards living longer for the pensioners involved. Considering that studies prove lack of creative activity can severely decrease ones mental health, any stimulating activity such as drawing, writing, playing games or solving complex puzzles can be seen as a step towards decreasing mental illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. The fact that this mental stimulation is built around camaraderie and urban art is just the cherry on top.
Lara says that LATA 65 was initially meant to be a one-off workshop, but she was amazed by the enthusiasm and creativity of her students and knew she wanted to carry on. She decided that she wanted to continue to run the workshops and have Lisbon’s senior citizens continue to share their passion for urban art. Hopefully, projects like these will continue making creative stimulation a habit more than the exception when it comes to activities for seniors.