Friday, November 21, 2014

Adé Bethune Lecture Series: Dr. Judith Church Tydings Lecture

Adé Bethune in her later years
This week Dr. Judith Church Tydings, Ph.D., delivered the final lecture in the series on Adé Bethune, titled "Adé Bethune, Renaissance Woman: Creative Living and Aging." The lecture was part of Adé Bethune: The Power of One Person, a celebration of the centennial of Bethune's birth.

Tydings is an expert on women and aging. Her dissertation, “Old Yankee Women: Life Histories and Cultural Significance,” contains information about her experience living with Bethune. During her lecture, Tydings discussed her relationship with Bethune and her creative approach to aging.

In addition to being an active member of the community, Bethune was a pioneer in many fields, including liturgical design, graphic design and architectural criticism. Tydings listed Bethune's numerous accomplishments and stated that if she were alive today, her genius would be widely recognized. Tydings noted that Bethune is best known for her illustrations in The Catholic Worker, yet these drawings account for a relatively small percentage of her artistic output. Tydings suggested that Bethune ought to be recognized as a multi-media artist, not merely “The Catholic Worker artist.”

Tydings described her experiences living with Bethune during the final three summers of her life. She noted that despite the challenges brought about by the aging process, such as cataracts, Bethune worked ceaselessly until the end of her life. In her last years, she focused on building an intentional living community for the elderly called Harbor House in Newport, RI. Based on her belief that traditional nursing homes did not sufficiently meet people’s needs, Bethune designed Harbor House according to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a psychological theory that focuses on how people can achieve their full potential. Bethune's adaptation of Maslow's pyramid is shown below.

Adé Bethune's adaptation of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs

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