Elizabeth Layton; Passionate in her Prime
Mom, if you ever get to thinking it's too late to start something new, remember Elizabeth Layton.
"Grandma" Layton started drawing in 1977, when she was her sixties! By 1992, she'd landed a show at the National Museum of American Art.
She’d struggled at length with bipolar disorder and, after the death of her son, Layton fell into a deep depression. She decided to take an art class at a local college in Kansas. Almost immediately, she found art to be therapeutic. Her mental health improved and she began a daily art practice.
She started documenting her life with detailed self-portraits, done in pencil. Here she is with her granddaughter, eating KFC for Thanksgiving dinner.
And here she is with her husband, all psyched up about art.
Layton was a really passionate lady, so her work was often political. Here she is lamenting lives lost to AIDS and contributing to the NAMES project, the AIDS Memorial Quilt which commemorates those who died from the virus. (They're still adding to it, BTW! It's the biggest folk art piece in the world!)
And here she is fighting for the Freedom of Speech.
Her solo show at the Smithsonian in 1992 was a big hit and landed her gigs at other museums.
Three years later, Layton died at the age of 85... according to her family, hopeful and happy.
The Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance, a mental health clinic in Kansas, was erected in 2016 and operates in her honor.
Incredible, right? To see more of her innovative and honest work, go here.