The Art Programs at Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community
BY MEGAN FOSTER
All across the Cedar Hill campus, our residents are busy painting, pasting, and creating – feeding their souls and touching those of staff and visitors.
Village Weekly Art Classes
At The Village, the weekly art class is led by Kathleen Eames, who was the Director of Social Services at Cedar Hill Health Care for 13 years. An artist herself, she started art classes for residents before she retired.
“One day I sat in on an art class with the residents. Well, one day became three days, and three days became 10 before it turned into a weekly thing,” she said.
After her retirement, Eames received a phone call from owner Mary Louise about teaching an art class at the Village, and so it began again. Every Wednesday Eames teaches a collaborative art class. The room swirls with the colors on the canvases and in the palettes. Many of the painters work from another painting they choose, recreating it. Others sketch out their own.
“Painting just lifts my spirit so much. I love having the opportunity to learn something new,” said Claudine Spencer, one of the Village painters. When asked if she had a favorite piece out of the three she has finished so far, she said “ Oh, I wouldn’t choose one in particular. I just love being able to attend and progress each time.”
Many of the finished works will be for sale at the Cedar Hill Art Show on May 12th. Proceeds will benefit the entertainment fund which brings in musicians and other entertainers to the campus. The Village artists are also creating a 2020 calendar of their artwork to sell to benefit the entertainment fund.
Working at arts, crafts, and other creative projects benefit people of all ages. For seniors, it helps keep the brain healthy and can alleviate anxiety and depression. Creative activities such as writing, painting, or knitting encourage a sense of competence, purpose, and growth – all of which contribute to aging well and personal happiness. Painting, assembling collages and making crafts is soothing work and when done as a group encourages community. And who doesn’t like seeing their creations hanging around them?
Memory Care Art Program
The Judith Brogren Memory Care Center’s Activity Director Pam Crosby was a kindergarten teacher for 13 years. Arts and crafts were an integral part of her curriculum. Fine motor skills, language development, social skills, art appreciation and a means to express oneself are all contained within one project, she explained. “ These concepts apply to everyone regardless of age or mental status,” she said.
Art helps preserve the Memory Care residents sense of self. Through doing art projects, the residents build relationships with each other, experience reduced anxiety, and gain more of a sense of control over their immediate environment. Residents have to plan, remember, create patterns and use large and fine motor skills. Each project provides them with a sense of purpose.
Encouragement is important said, Crosby. Throughout each class, she repeats continually ‘there is no right way to do this, so that means there is no wrong way’. “Some are initially worried about getting messy or are visibly upset when paint, playdough, slime or whatever medium we are working with gets on their hands. I try to reassure them by saying, ‘If you didn’t get dirty then you didn’t have a good time,” said Crosby. “Their smiles and twinkling eyes when they receive compliments is worth every bit of mess!”
“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut
All of the materials used are washable and non-toxic.
Residents recently experimented with painting Jackson Pollock style. Pollock was inspired by the Navajo Sand Painters, explained Crosby. The ‘canvas’ was the ground and the emphasis was on the creating process. Pollock placed large canvases on the floor and used various methods of applying paint. This technique was called ‘action painting’ or ‘abstract expressionism’. He would splash paint on the canvas using brushes, sticks, trowels, paint cans with holes in the bottom, and knives.
On Jackson Pollock’s birthday, Monday, January 28th, Memory Care celebrated by placing large sheets of oak tag on the floor and sprayed six different colors of paint out of baby bottles. Staff and residents dressed in clothing protectors and placed their feet and legs inside garbage bags to prevent laundry disasters and then concentrated on creating art from the six colors used. The finished masterpieces are on display in the dining rooms. If you visit the Memory Care Center, you will also see a wide variety of art created by the residents.
Arts and Crafts at Cedar Hill Health Care Center
Across the driveway at Cedar Hill Health Care Center, Licensed Nursing Assistant and artist Maggie Ondre leads classes. (You can see some of her own art on display at Cedar Hill.) On her time off, she comes in to share her talents and do crafts with the residents. With thoughts of Spring, the residents are painting flower pots. They’ve also done rock painting, made snowmen and sewing hearts for Valentine’s Day.
Resident Betty Appleton said Ondre’s art classes “are so much fun”. “She’s so creative it is amazing. She’s so positive, cheerful and complimentary to everyone. Everyone is always happy and in a good mood during her class.”
Good moods. Just one of the many benefits of creating art.
“We Love the Arts” Mother’s Day Art Show and Sale
Sunday, May 12
PLEASE NOTE SEPARATE TIMES FOR EACH WING
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in The Village at Cedar Hill
2 – 4 p.m. at the Judith Brogren Memory Care Center
Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community, Windsor, VT