Fostering a Community Where Artistic Pursuits Can Thrive
Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Art can help to clear your head and organize your thoughts whether you are dealing with a stressful time or just need to break up the mundanities of everyday life. Being able to pick up a pencil or paint brush and go from a blank page to something beautiful can transform your mood and offer a sense of accomplishment. You are able to take the complexities of your thoughts or the world around you and focus that energy into one complete visual work.
As a form of expression, art has the ability to communicate feelings or thoughts that one is not always able to string into words. As we age, dementia can set in for some, affecting the person’s ability to properly communicate over time. By offering art therapy sessions through Fine Art Miracles at St. John’s Home, a different avenue of communication is provided so that residents can express themselves and gain a sense of accomplishment that humans naturally crave.
Fine Art Miracles is a nonprofit offering a higher level of art to senior populations in nursing homes. Chief Executive Officer Tess Lojacono tributes her successful expansion of Fine Art Miracles into upstate New York to the transformation she saw in residents demeanor. “They went from being completely withdrawn in the first session to talking and interacting with each other and family. It was amazing,” says Tess.
During the art therapy sessions, an instructor will first educate the residents on a famous work of art along with the medium and techniques used in its creation. After a lesson on the piece, residents have the opportunity to try their hand at recreating something similar.
Melissa Olson is the instructor assigned to St. John’s Home. She has been working at Fine Art Miracles for a few years now and was recommended to the position for her patience and easy-going attitude. “Art benefits the residents by providing them with the freedom to create, the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them,” says Melissa. She loves hearing residents’ stories and seeing their eyes light up when they touch a paint brush for the first time in years.
Melissa raves about the enthusiasm she has seen from residents at St. John’s Home. Noting one resident in particular, Melissa shares how Dan Seiles of Hastings 3 “radiates positivity and is constantly helping those around him.” Dan’s demeanor and willingness to help is a shining example of the supportive, thriving sense of community St. John’s has been able to foster over the years.
From the success achieved in the pilot stage, St. John’s plans to continue its work with Fine Art Miracles. “We hope to reveal the hidden talents of St. John’s residents and to nurture the ever-growing artistic community within St. John’s Home,” says Nate Sweeney, St. John’s Vice President of Skilled Services.