“This art, it really changes the way you think.”

Part of an ongoing series of perspectives from ARTZ Philly’s interns: read on to hear about Stephanie’s visit to an art exhibition of works by the residents of a care community.

Spring semester is progressing, and I have slowly but surely been balancing my schedule. I’m happy to say that I have finally been able to attend programs! ARTZ Philly offers a variety of programs to our participants, (such as Artz in the Making, Artz at the Museum, Artz on the Road) for free! (Click here to get to know all of our wonderful programs!) I initially intended to write about the learning process of getting to know the world of ARTZ Philadelphia and what it has done for me. However, after attending a resident art show, curated by the wonderful ARTZ Philly program facilitator Sue Brown, my idea changed. I was more inspired by what ARTZ has done for the participants. The artwork was all created by program participants in both memory care and personal care at St. Joseph’s Manor.

Two ARTZ participants view works made by people living with dementia at an exhibition

The artwork was beautifully displayed, with each artist’s name right above it. As I was looking at a work of four concentric circles, inspired by Kandinsky Circles (see here), a woman also looking at the art says, “I didn’t think I could do that, but I did!” She ended up being one of the four artists of the collaborative art piece, Fran. She and I spoke for a while, and she gave some beautiful insight on life. I remember her saying, “You can do anything you want… I didn’t think I could do this, but I did it. It changed the way I think. Oh, it’s beautiful.” Fran’s face lit up every time she looked at her artwork, describing the way the colors swirled together within each circle, as a metaphor for life and interconnection. I myself, am a very flowery, spiritual person, who believes in the universe and that everything is connected somehow. So, naturally I was enveloped in this conversation with Fran. I was drawn in by her gratitude towards art and ARTZ Philly, and how it changed the way she looked at everything. Her thinking went from “I don’t think I can do this” to “Oh, wow I’m doing this!” to “Yep, I did that!” and her happiness showed in every speck of her being.

Fran, along with the other artists, proudly walked along the display, pointing out their pieces, their favorite pieces, or pieces that jumped out at them. I left feeling so connected to these artists, and being able to see them so proud of their work was so heartwarmingly beautiful. I’ve seen participants connect with art pieces in museums, and it creates some of the most deep and profoundly beautiful conversations. But seeing participants transform into artists, and being able to witness and hear of their transformation through art, is something I shall never forget. Seeing this change in them, in turn changes me, and provides me with inspiration in my own life to not live within the bounds of my comfort zone. Trying new things, making more art just for pleasure, Fran has truly made an imprint on my soul with her words of wisdom. You really can do anything you want.

Part of an ongoing series of perspectives from ARTZ Philly's interns

— Stephanie Kong, ARTZ Philadelphia Intern 2017/18; Temple University’s Human Development and Community Engagement Program

We’ll be sharing a series of perspectives from ARTZ Philly’s interns, Stephanie and Alexandra! Read on to hear about Steph’s visit to an art exhibition at a care community.Stephanie is with us for a second semester, and we’re so glad to have her on our team. To hear more from Steph and Alexandra, ARTZ Philly’s interns, come back and visit the blog!