August 17, 2017

Art Exhibit at Reynolds Institute on Aging Spotlights Creativity of Seniors

Aug. 17, 2017 | To witness the best evidence that creative, artistic expression not only exists among seniors but positively flourishes, simply see the “Caring Through Art” exhibit at the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

Located in the first floor lobby of the institute, the exhibit features 40 pieces of artwork created by artists who live in long-term care facilities. The resident artists range from age 52 to 102. Mediums used include watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, colored markers, acrylic, oil and pastels.

The exhibit will be open to the public from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Aug. 25. Parking passes can be obtained from the front-desk volunteer or at the Longevity Clinic Check-in Desk.

A volunteer helps set up the exhibit at the Reynolds Institute.

“It is with excitement, appreciation and awe that the institute is providing support and space to ‘Caring Through Art,’” said Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., executive director the Reynolds Institute. “These vibrant examples of creativity show that as we age our talent isn’t only retained, but hidden talents can still be discovered within each of us to produce fascinating & beautiful art.”

The “Caring Through Art” Resident Art Contest was established by the Arkansas Health Care Association (AHCA) more than 10 years ago. It is designed to recognize the resident artists in facilities that are members of the association as well as the Arkansas Assisted Living Association.

“AHCA believes it is important to shine the spotlight on the creative abilities of residents and the vibrant activities that occur every day in long-term care facilities,” said Rachel Davis, executive director of AHCA/AALA.

One of the 40 pieces of artwork on display in the exhibit.

Pearl Downs, a resident at Good Shepherd Nursing and Rehabilitation in Little Rock, volunteered several years ago through the Arkansas Health Care Foundation’s Caring Through Art program to develop a book, titled Teaching Elderly Adults to Paint. Today, Downs’s book is incorporated in the AHCA Activity Director Certification course. AHCA enables activity directors to excel by emphasizing the diverse nature of long-term care residents and by providing a variety of activity ideas: creative, spiritual, physical, social, educational and sensory.

After Downs moved to Good Shepherd, she was encouraged by her family, friends, fellow residents and the staff to begin painting again. She even began teaching classes at the facility. These fostered friendships among the residents and staff.

Established in 1951, the AHCA is the state’s largest organization of long-term care providers, representing more than 90 percent of the licensed long-term care facilities in Arkansas.