In partnership with Iona Senior Services and the Corcoran College of Art + Design’s ASID Student Chapter, AFTA designated one of its many programs for seniors to participate in designing a Modern Classic plastic molded chair to celebrate a competition which was sponsored by Herman Miller and American Office.

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In January, AFTA conducted a series of three workshops with older adults attending Iona Wellness & Arts Center in Washington, D.C.  Students from ASID — Whitney Osterhout, Kristen Wong and Meghan O’Malley– assisted Teaching Artist Carol Siegel in leading the workshops. The participants collaboratively turned the chair into a work of art.


They drew inspiration from Billy Collins’ poem, “The Chairs That No One Sits In,” the philosophies of mid-20th century designers Charles and Ray Eames, and through discussion of the furniture, people and places that had personally provided them with comfort over the years.

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One participant shared a story about a rocking chair built by his grandfather sitting on a large, wrap-around porch. As a child, he enjoyed sitting in this chair to read. Sometimes when the wind blew, the chair would move by itself and he would talk have conversations with the chair as if it were a living person.


Each individual created a round collage using materials that featured circular designs, representing the unity, wholeness and the circular nature of life.  Teaching Artist Siegel says, “The circle represents comfort (the chair) as a container to hold their art making. It is a safe space for the group to connect as they work within a circle of friends.” The collages, along with words and phrases from their discussions, were applied to the chair which they fondly named “Moon Watcher” for its pale appearance and skyward tilt.

Thank you to our group members at Iona for sharing your stories and talent and to center staff Sharon O’Conner, Sarah Grogan and Jackie McGeehan for helping bring “Moon Walker” to life.



Billy Collins

You see them on porches and on lawns

down by the lakeside,

usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there and look out

at the water or the big shade trees.

The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs

though at one time it must have seemed

a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table

between the chairs where no one

is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,

but it might be a good idea one day

for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them

for the sake of remembering

whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs

side by side with a table in between.

The clouds are high and massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.

The man takes a sip of his drink.

Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird

then another, cries of joy or warning—

it passes the time to wonder which.


Program Photography: Gene Carl Feldman and Emily Wathen