Elizabeth Layton; Passionate in her Prime

Elizabeth Layton; Passionate in her Prime

Mom, if you ever get to thinking it's too late to start something new, remember Elizabeth Layton.  

 Elizabeth Layton

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. 

 I’m Into Art Therapy, 1981

I’m Into Art Therapy, 1981

She started documenting her life with detailed self-portraits, done in pencil.  Here she is with her granddaughter, eating KFC for Thanksgiving dinner.   

 Thanksgiving, 1977

Thanksgiving, 1977

And here she is with her husband, all psyched up about art.

 You Gotta Have Art, 1981

You Gotta Have Art, 1981

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!)

 Remembering Names, 1989

Remembering Names, 1989

And here she is fighting for the Freedom of Speech. 

 Censored, 1989

Censored, 1989

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. 

 Sharing the Spring, 1981

Sharing the Spring, 1981

The Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance, a mental health clinic in Kansas, was erected in 2016 and operates in her honor.  

 Self-Portrait, date unknown 

Self-Portrait, date unknown 

Incredible, right?  To see more of her innovative and honest work, go here.   

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