Art kits for seniors

ARVADA CENTER ART PROJECT A STROKE OF JOY FOR SENIORS

Piet Mondrian painting

An example of Dutch modernist Piet Mondrian's bold rectangles.


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'We want to help seniors to combat the loneliness and isolation that many of them are feeling right now.'

– Teresa Cirrincione, Arvada Center Education

Arvada Center, AARP offer art kits to seniors as therapeutic response to pandemic

By John Moore, Senior Arts Journalist

2020 has been an unrelenting American tragedy for seniors living in long-term care facilities, where more than 100,000 have died from the coronavirus – most of whom have had to say goodbye to loved one from a distance, through windows or computer screens.

Teresa Cirrincione QUOTEIt is hard to overstate just how hard the pandemic has been on both the physical and mental welfare of our older population. According to Kaiser Health News, 46 percent of all adults ages 65 and older said worry and stress related to COVID has had a negative impact on their mental health. And that survey was taken back in July.

The Arvada Center’s Education division, in partnership with AARP, has been scrambling to respond to the crisis by coming up with a way to offer seniors one of the most powerful and therapeutic tools there is to combat sadness: Creativity.

Next month, AARP and the Arvada Center will launch their new "Art Kits for Senior Communities" project to give confined seniors the opportunity, tools and training to create art – and in a variety of ways.

“We are very excited to start this pilot program that attempts to make something positive out of the truly awful circumstances that have befallen residents of senior care facilities during this time,” said Teresa Cirrincione, the Arvada Center’s Assistant Director of Education. “We want to provide an enriching arts experience that puts art supplies in the hands of these seniors to help them to combat the loneliness and isolation that many of them are feeling right now.”

Arvada Center's 'Amplify' series honored with True West Award

In mid-January, the Arvada Center will start to distribute art kits to residents of the three senior-care facilities that have signed up for the program so far – one each in Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Denver. To begin, there will be 100 individual art kits available, and they will come in three variations: Painting, landscape watercolors and printmaking. IKEA Furniture is lending support to the program by providing packaging materials for each kit, which will be useful to artists of any experience level. The Arvada Center will provide instructions and suggestions through photos and a tutorial video that is being created by Arvada Center Teaching Artists.

'I feel strongly that the visual arts are of vast and incalculable importance to our society. Of course, I could be prejudiced. I am a visual art.' – Kermit the Frog

The “Art Kit Project for Seniors” program builds on the Arvada Center’s existing partnership with AARP, which began in 2011 and has since included offering virtual classes to AARP members early on in the pandemic.

“We have been looking for other ways to connect with residents of long-term care facilities ever since,” Cirrincione said. “The challenge was to develop an idea that represents the kind of creatively enriching program we would normally offer through the Arvada Center.”

Most people might naturally assume that education programs such as the Arvada Center’s are geared toward the very young. “But here at the Arvada Center, we take pride in offering lifelong learning programs for students at every stage of their lives,” Cirrincione said. The Arvada Center, in partnership with the Alzheimer's Association, also has been offering a program called “SPARK!,” which addresses early memory loss in seniors, since 2015.

“Seniors are generally underserved when it comes to education programs,” Cirrincione said. “This new art-kit project really underscores our philosophy that art is for students of every age. We believe in the transformative power of the arts and in individual creativity for everyone.”

Cirrincione said the art-kit program could expand, based on response. And she hopes that once the first local seniors have brought 100 new works of art into the world, they can be displayed or distributed in some fashion, perhaps through social media or the Arvada web site.

'It does not matter how badly you paint, so long as you don’t paint badly like other people.' — George Moore, 'Confessions of a Young Man'

Printmaking Art Kit for Seniors

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