This qualitative study investigated the perception of learning by third age participants at an unprogrammed community art studio (Timm-Bottos, 1995) in Montreal known as an ‘art hive’ (Timm- Bottos, 2012).Third agers are defined as participants between the ages of 55-75 (Laslett, 1989), and participation is defined as making art.A case study research design was used, and 11 participants in the third age at the art hive known as ‘La Ruche d’Art: St Henri’ were interviewed about their learning experiences.
Emergent themes suggested learning was heavily influenced by the structure and facilitation, as well as the social aspect of the art hive. Perceived learning included instrumental skills such as artistic skills, techniques, and social skills. Embodied and transformative learning experiences included learning how to freely express oneself, learning essential meanings and life lessons, learning new or broadened perspectives, and learning the healing power of art making.
Learning was perceived to occur simultaneously by observing others and through self-initiated and directed processes. Many of the reported learning experiences were perceived as transformational, and led to experiences of personal growth, empowerment and profound fulfillment.
This study points to many implications for the art hives and other community art studios to have a significant impact on the well-being of aging populations, as they offer opportunities for participants to express themselves creatively, build self-efficacy and autonomy, as well as feel welcomed to belong to an inclusive, loving community