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92-Year-Old Platti Ready to Take Her Next Step at Sandburg

Pura Platti

Jan. 9, 2013
GALESBURG—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, will take two art classes at Carl Sandburg College during the 2013 spring semester, which begins Jan. 14.

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?”

Both of Platti’s classes will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays. She’ll take Three-Dimensional Design in the morning (“I think I would love that because I do my own cards and things like that on the side,” she said.) and Advanced Painting in the afternoon.

“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, and two of her pieces were recently chosen to be featured in Beacon of Hope Hospice’s 2013 calendar. 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.

Platti — who speaks fluent English and Spanish, studied French and understands Italian and Portuguese — took an art class in the 1960s with a friend who was an art director while she was still living in Puerto Rico.

“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, who all live in the U.S., 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,” said Platti, a mother of three and grandmother of six. “I had a little book that I made with a lot of poetry that I collected through the years.”

Platti then moved to Galesburg later in 2003 and has continued her love of learning. In addition to painting in her apartment and acrylic classes taught by McGowin at Woodridge, she’s working on another book of poems. She enjoys using black and white in her art and would like to start making more abstract pieces so she can try something “completely new,” Platti said.

Does she have a favorite piece of art?

“I don’t have any favorite,” Platti said. “They are all like my children.”

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.”


Pura Platti sits in front of a painting she painted.

Pura Platti, 92, stands in front of one of her paintings in her apartment at Woodridge Supportive Living Residence in Galesburg. Platti will take two art classes at Carl Sandburg College during the spring semester.