Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.
When Susan Crossley, Director of Recreation at Oaks at Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg, started an art class for the residents of the retirement community, she first scheduled it for an hour every other week.
Soon the participants persuaded her to expand it to a weekly session. As interest grew, even that proved insufficient, and the “Express Yourself Art Class” is now a two-and-a-half hour weekly session, with participants often arriving 40 minutes ahead of time to prepare materials.
Crossley describes herself as a facilitator rather than a teacher, a catalyst to help the participants unlock their creativity. Art projects include acrylic, multimedia, pen-and-ink, paper collage, and even a shed built out of toothpicks. The class members range in age from 69 to 99, with an average age of 82.
Even with physical challenges such as physical tremors and colorblindness the opportunity to create is something the residents find engaging and fulfilling. Crossley says she has seen results that are in line with studies which show that being able to engage in a creative activity can help lower blood pressure, ease depression, reduce the influence of pain and even reduce dependence on medication.
An exhibit of the artwork produced by the residents will be on display in the Lowengard Atrium at the witf Public Media Center, available for viewing during normal business hours from September 11 to November 11. An artists’ reception is scheduled for September 26 from 5-7 pm and fourteen of the resident artists will attend. Jazz pianist Steve Rudolph will perform during the reception.
Below you can hear our interview and feature on the art class:
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