What happens when you put students studying community based art together with senior citizens? A project called “Rejuvenation”.

I was one of four students working on the project.  We met with many of the residents and found out what was missing in their lives. Together we tried to come up with an idea that would fulfill the resident’s desire for change, excitement, and connection among the residents.

We would study an original art, and then we would re-create it.  Sometimes we “played” with photography, other times we sculpted with fruits and vegetables.  We were asking the residents to look at art in a completely different way than they used to. It took a while for the residents to grasp the concept, but once they did, the art really began to get interesting.

Our first re-creation was Renoirs’ Luncheon of the Boating Party. The feeling of participation in something new and exciting permeated the walls of the residence and many people came to watch. Residents with special needs participated in the re-creation of Henri Matisse’s The Dancers. They each colored a square that then was connected like a puzzle to recreate the famous work. The joy in participating in something larger than them was evident in their smiles. The remake of Van Gogh’s portrait was created by a resident that had suffered from a stroke. He could not speak and was in a wheelchair. The Van Gogh style worked very well with the natural shakes of his hands.  Not only is his art remarkable, the light in his eyes when people congratulated him at the exhibition was very moving. Our final project was a recreation of the Mad Hatters Tea Party by Louis Carroll.  The residents were invited to a Tea Party and asked to come dressed up.  It was a magical and crazy kind of event!

Usually the only type of art that is done in assisted living is craft or painting, or flower arrangements. Here we were creating contemporary art, and it was stretching their imagination. More important than the final “remakes” was the process that these residents went through.  The feeling of stretching the imagination, working together, and thinking outside the box was not easy at first, but with each new remake, became easier and more creative. For me, as an artist, this new way of making art – where the process becomes more important than the results – was a great learning experience. More than that, I found I really connected to many of the residents and staff and I am still in touch with some of them today.

This project was created in conjunction with a special program teaching community based art to students held at Shinkar School of design in Tel Aviv, Israel.

More info: debioulu.com

Vermeer’s “Milkmaid” and remake

Van Gogh’s “Dr. Gachet” and remake

Degas’s “Two dancers on the stage” and remake

Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and remake

Henri Matisse’s “The Dancers” and remake

Over 90 residents participated and proved that you are never too old to wear a Tu Tu

Art can be fun no matter the age

The residents on the special care ward are rarely invited to participate with the rest of the residents

The event finished off with a Mad-Hatter Tea Party