Programs for Senior Citizens & Special Populations

All ArtVillage workshops  for elderly adults and other special populations are centered around the goal to help the individual  feel loved, appreciated, cared for, supported and cherished.

Workshops are also designed to help individuals cope with the challenges of their life.  The belief that each person can live as fully as possible guides the workshop process.

Every project uses simple natural and man-made materials and processes. Gentle facilitation helps participants express themselves through the creation of personally meaningful art.

Generally, each workshop begins with a short story and sample art works. These serve as illustrations and motivators for the participants. The workshop series usually culminates in an exhibition or celebration where the participants’ art is displayed or used, as in a play or demonstration.

The Story of Wood
It is told that an old piece of wood tells a long story. Though the wood may look ancient and pale, it carries with it the tales of its roots and its shoots: its ancestors and the many trees that have come from the seeds that have fallen from its branches. In this workshop, participants have the opprotunity to create a “wood” symbol” to remind themselves and others that they, as elders in the community, are both our past and our future. 

The world as it is now is the fruit of the labor of our elders and the seeds they have sown have born new life and creations during their time on earth. Even if a person has known another only a very short time, that person will carry the other with them all the days of his or her life. Wood is the symbol of beginnings, calm, healing, longevity and energy for the fulfillment of human aspirations.

The elders who participate in this program have an opportunity to talk about the “wood art” they create, representing them and their personal story. This program strengthens the family and friends as they surround and support their elder with love, renewed appreciation, and a a deeper understanding of their joint connection.


The Golden Mountain
Gold, associated with the golden years of one’s life, is supposed to be the most magically potent of metals. Thought to lend energy and send forth power and strength, gold is not only a symbol of love but also supposed to promote wisdom. Though a person in his or her golden years may appear old and frail, he or she is filled with the strength and wisdom. Just as gold is known as the most precious of metals, a person in their golden years is most precious to all. He or she contains the secrets, mysteries, strength, energy and wisdom of a lifetime.

In this workshop, participant artists create small figures that when put together on a symbolic golden mountain, symbolizes reaching the summit of their golden years. The creation of the golden mountain is celebrated with a “gold” themed party to honor the elders who are more precious than gold, and cherished by all

Where the Rose Grows
It is told that once there was a holy man who was wounded on his hands and feet. When the blood from his wound dripped to the ground, at that spot, beautiful red roses instantly grew.

In this workshop, each artist participant is given a red rose as a symbol of the years of hard work and sacrifice that she or he had done throughout his or her life. From each of those years, beautiful things have grown – friendships, work accomplished, children, grandchildren. In the workshop, the participants experience their rose and their life differently. Just as a single rose folds out from its center, soft, deep, beautiful and mysterious with many there are many petals, there are many aspects to each person’s life. Participants will use their rose and other materials to create a work of art that represents their soft unfolding, a life in full bloom, and perhaps even the mysterious beauty of petals falling one by one.

Memory Balls
Everyone has special memories of some special time, place or person that brings warm and happy feelings back to them. The memory might be from just a few days ago or a long ago time. Most memories are hidden inside our minds until something “sparks” the memory – to wake it up from our subconscious. When a person remembers one thing, other things inevitably come to mind.

In this workshop, artist participants have the opportunity to make “memory balls” that they can keep on a stand on their dresser, or hang from a branch or ceiling. The participant artist can attach ribbons with symbols of associated memories to their memory ball. They can go to their memory ball whenever they want a pleasant little vacation to a time and place that had meaning and happiness for them.

One Door Closes . . . One Door Opens
Everyone has many losses in their lives. We lose jobs, friends, homes, places, abilities, family, memory, pets, things, hair, homes, and most poigantly, “the people we once were.”

This workshop is designed to help the participant artists reflect on the “doors that have opened” as a result of the losses they have experienced. The artist participants will create a “collage door” that opens and closes, complete with a door knob and other hardware to make their door as personally meaningful as possible. 

 Ritual Bowls
Rituals help individuals “contain” their experiences in an expressive and ritualized form.
In this workshop, participant artists have the opportunity to create a ritual bowl to symbolize an experience or aspect of themselves or the world that they wish to”contain,” for the purpose of paying greater attention or reverence.  Participant artists may the opportunity to create a special ritual with their bowl, and share its significance.

Feeling Faces
No matter what stage of life a person is in, they need to express their feelings. Social contraints and survival needs often inhibit free expression , especially for vulnerable persons who are dependant on others for their care. A person’s face, along with their gestures, body language, and voice, communicates their feelings.

In this workshop, participant artists are given the opportunity to voice their feelings and emotions through doing a four-sided clay sculpture. Encouraged to express a variety of emotional states, participant artists often find that this sculpture experience helps  free their locked or unexpressed emotions.

In ancient and contemporary Eastern cultures, Mahakala is revered as the god of chaos. It may seem strange to Western sensibilities to honor a god who brings chaos, but without chaos, people are at risk of becoming complacent and taking their lives for granted. Mahakala may take the form of a great storm, natural disasters, war, trauma, loss, or tragedy. It is told that when Mahakala comes, the world is turned upside down, and people are forced to learn new and better ways of being in the world.

In this theater and art-based workshop, participant artists create their own story. Their story is woven into the tale of Mahakala, which they will later perform with movement, dance, the spoken word and music. In a group setting, participant artists make their own masks, costumes, and props. An exciting performance for their families and friends is the highlight of. this fun workshop series. Suited for adults or children persons with some physical or mental limitations or developmental disabilities.

Finger Prints
There are more nerve endings in a persons face and on the palms of their hands than anywhere else on the body. The finger tips contain the most nerve endings of anywhere on a person’s hand, and the index finger has more nerve endings than any other finger. There are more nerve endings in a person’s eyes, than in the rest of the body combined. The eyes  recieve an incredible volume of emotional information, which translates into an emotional response expressed through facial expression, gesture, and bodily movement.

The Finger Prints workshop takes advantage of the heightened neural sensitivity in a person’s eyes, face, hands, and ears. Participant artists are guided through a tactile meditation and process in which they create intricate drawings with their finger tips, with soft meditative music playing in the background. This facilitated process is relaxing and freeing for advanced artists and complete beginners. The Finger Prints facilitated art process is particularly adaptable for persons with Alzheimers disease, dementia, and serious illness that may make an individual frail in mind or body. 

More workshops to come . . .

  • An Art Garden of my Own
  • An Angel at My Table
  • Memory Art book
  • Mad Hatter Tea party
  • Carrying Hope on a feather
  • Old Clothing Collage



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