Graffiti art and seniors don’t go together? There’s a Portuguese project called “LATA 65”, which proves this assumption to be wrong. In 2-day-workshops, the organizers Lara Seixo Rodrigues and Adrião Resende teach seniors more about graffiti culture, the typical slang and how to create graffitis. A nice side effect: their students don’t just have fun but help the city look better.

Copyright by LATA 65
Copyright by LATA 65

The name of the project comes from the Portuguese word for can “lata” and the age of the graffiti students. But 65 is just the minimum age. Some of them are way older – the oldest participant was in fact 90.
Ever since the project began, its popularity increased, and Lara and her partner started to “export” their project to other countries. Recently, they hosted their very first workshop in Brazil.
The structure of their workshops looks like this: On the first day they teach their students the history of graffiti art. Afterwards, their students are invited to try graffiti art themselves – with remarkable results.

We talked with Lara Seixo Rodrigues, one of the two founders of the project, about “Lata 65”, their students, and the intention behind the workshops.

Cans for Life: How did you come up with this project?
Lara Seixo Rodrigues: Fernando Mendes of COWORK Lisbon and me had the idea for the workshop while sitting at a coffee table. He has always been a follower of the work of WOOL – Covilhã Urban Art Festival. Our art work is widely recognized and discussed by the people in Covilhã, Coimbra, Figueira da Foz, and Abrantes. Interestingly we’ve received the most questions about our paintings from senior citizens.
At that coffee table, he challenged me to try something new: a workshop. 15 days later we set up the first workshop of urban art for seniors.

Copyright LATA 65
Copyright LATA 65

What is your intention behind the project?
At first no one believed in the project and understood our idea. We wanted to prove that concepts such as active ageing and intergenerational solidarity make a lot of sense. With our workshops we want to demonstrate that urban art is a good way for older people to connect to contemporary art which is usually associated with younger ones. Because we believe: Age is just a number.

Is it an ongoing project?
It’s an ongoing project. Well, at least I try to, but in Portugal it’s really hard to keep it ongoing. The government doesn’t really understand how important it is to keep old citizens happy.

Is there any public support that helps you with this project? Financial help or manpower?
No, not at all.

LATA 65 | Graffiti Art For Grannies by AJ+

LATA 65 | Graffiti Art For Grannies by AJ+"Tutorials in graffiti art are what the Lata 65 workshop in Lisbon, Portugal, is all about. They're teaching seniors the ins and out of street art and graffiti. "Shot by video journalist Silvia Cabeza for AJ+.Facebook: app:

Posted by LATA 65 on Dienstag, 15. März 2016

How is the feedback on the project so far?
People love the project, the experience of just watching a group of pensioners doing something they ‘should not’ do baffles a lot of people.
We receive so much support (now) from all parts of the world. But among thousands of fans there will always be criticism. Because some people believe this is a bad investment or because they think they’re not creative enough … I try to focus my mind and eyes on what I see and hear during and after each workshop. Sometimes I have a lot of support from persons I admire, like the American photojournalist Martha Cooper, who documents our workshops since their beginning.

Who are the participants? How would you describe a typical senior with whom you’re working with?
We really don’t have a type of participant. Until now, we had all kinds of professionals (lawyers, teachers, fishmongers, etc.), all different kinds of schooling degrees (or with none at all). It is remarkable until today we only had 21 male participants out of 200 students.

Did you have problems finding participants for “LATA 65”?
No, never!

Thank you Lara for talking with us!

What do you think about the project? Would you expect your grandmother or grandfather to participate? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

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