For example, Edna's color palate changes and the media she uses changes regularly, often revealing her state of mind before she is aware of it herself. Art has been one of Edna's main sources of stability. Edna appreciates her solitude. Even though she and her husband have always had a lot of friends, Edna prefers to be alone and frequently spends all day in her art studio, which is a large shed on their property.
In her 50s Edna started to become more active in her community. Her daughter's experience with spousal abuse inspired Edna to volunteer at a local women's shelter, where she continues to volunteer today. Passionate about the environment, Edna has served on more than one public council on community beautification and petitioned the city to expand its recycling program. In addition to her campaign for improved sanitation services with the city, Diamond has also served on beautification committees focused on planning community gardens and green spaces. Diamond learned how to care for orchids in her spare time during her senior years.
At once sociable and introverted, Edna has gone through several phases in her life. She acclaims her ability to adapt to change, noting that her strict upbringing helped her to deal with tough times in healthy ways. She and her husband have cultivated several close friendships throughout the years and often attend parties or go out for dinner with friends. When she reached her 5th decade, Edna sensed her worldview was changing. The changes occurring in her body were also affecting her mind and soul. She started reading about Eastern philosophy and enrolled in several classes locally to expand her awareness of spiritual values. One of her closest friends moved to Florida when Edna was around 60 years old, when she started to come to terms with the aging process. After her friend left the city, Edna and Elliot discussed moving to a more rural area. Within two years they purchased the house they live in now on Long Island. The move reflected their inner transformation from an extroverted, social lifestyle to one that was more peaceful, oriented toward quiet contemplation and nature.
Edna and Elliot have been married for fifty years now. Although they have shared both highs and lows, nothing remarkable has occurred during their marriage and they have never been near separation. Their relationship is intimate and yet they have consistently maintained personal independence. Edna, an artist who flourished during some of the most liberating eras for women in the United States, has never felt comfortable with traditional gender roles. Her relationship with her husband reflects egalitarian social values remarkable for individuals in their generation.
Traveling and mutual freedom has enabled their marriage to survive for 50 years. Edna and Elliot travel much less now than they used to because traveling is more of a hassle now and also because they have seen so much of the world that their priorities have shifted toward activities closer to home. The Diamonds were once avid tennis players but in their senior years their bodies have not been able to tolerate such vigorous forms of exercise. Edna now does yoga to keep her body in shape and attributes her good health to her yoga practice. In her free time, the Diamonds read, watch television, and use the computer to surf the Internet. Edna also learned how to cook exotic foods, and cooking has become one of the newfound hobbies of her senior years.
Edna has always been a spiritual person. She views the aging process as an opportunity to explore her inner world more deeply and more passionately. Getting old, according to Diamond, has strengthened her connection with God. She was raised with Conservative Jewish parents but in her adult life never cultivated a religious life. Her community was based more on her and her husband's career connections. Learning how to meditate and reading books on Eastern spirituality have enriched Diamond's life especially during her middle and senior years. Edna thinks about death but not in a morbid way. She wants to die as consciously and peacefully and as fearlessly as possible. She believes that making peace with mortality is a key to aging gracefully.
During the transition from middle to senior life, Edna Diamond has become less materialistic. Her values have changed, and she sees her shifting values appear in her artwork. When she was younger Edna was known for her heavy use of gold leaf, and in her 70s Edna rarely uses gold leaf and has switched her color palate entirely. She views these visual changes as symbols of her inner transformations. Her art is like a mirror for the inner life of this extraordinary woman.
Her senior years have also changed her outlook on her role as an artist. Making peace with her career choices in her 20s and 30s allowed Diamond to enjoy a relatively lucrative career as a visual artist. As a result, she never struggled with selling her work or making a name for herself. She has always been settled into her role and sense of purpose as an artist. Edna finds it difficult to refer to art as a career. She still…