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Pura Platti stands in front of one of her paintings in her apartment. She is taking two art classes at Carl Sandburg College this semester.
Photo: Bill Gaither/Carl Sandburg College
Pura Platti’s passion for art blossomed in her 30s while living in the seaside city of Ponce, Puerto Rico.
“That’s when I began to get inspired by nature, by the beauty of the sea and the little island and the birds,” Platti said. “I started to do things like a child.”
Sixty years later, she’s still as active and eager to learn as ever. The 92-year-old Platti, a resident at Woodridge Supportive Living Residence in Galesburg, Ill., is taking two art classes at Carl Sandburg College this semester.
Platti’s desire to take classes at Sandburg began after she read about a 102-year-old woman who went back to college last fall to finish her degree. She then mentioned the story to Woodridge activity director Nancy McGowin.
“Would you do that?” McGowin asked Platti.
“Of course I would,” Platti told her. “Why not?”
Platti will take three-dimensional design (“I think I would love that because I do my own cards and things like that on the side,” she said.) and advanced painting.
“If I am in good health,” Platti said, “I’m going to go there and enjoy everything.”
While Platti may be new to Sandburg, she’s no stranger to making art. The walls of her apartment at Woodridge are lined with works she’s done in the past. Two cups and another tray stuffed with paintbrushes sit on top of a trunk filled with other art supplies.
“I have oodles of things,” she said.
While she was living in Puerto Rico in the 1960s, Platti took an art class with a friend who was an art director.
“I just wanted to find out what I could learn, and she was so inspiring,” Platti said. “She exposed us to everything. From there I began to get more interested. It was a way of expressing myself.”
She moved to the United States in 2000 to be closer to her three children and six grandchildren and took classes for drawing and pastel painting at Kankakee Community College in 2003.
“Then I was more interested, and I was writing and painting,”Platti said. “I had a little book that I made with a lot of poetry that I collected through the years.”
Platti said she’s excited about going to Sandburg and hopes she can be an example for others who want to learn later in life. After all, not many people attend college at the same time as one of their grandchildren. For her, it’s about the experience more than the grade.
“I don’t feel nervous. First of all, I don’t believe it,” Platti said. “I’m very optimistic, and I say if others do it, why can’t I do it? Maybe I won’t be as good as others, but it is for my own pleasure and to have a good quality of life.”
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