The love for a beloved dog and the beauty of the changing seasons inspired four watercolor paintings created by United Hebrew staff and residents that have been recognized in a competitive exhibition sponsored annually by LeadingAge New York, a New York State industry association which represents nonprofit senior care providers.
Two of the paintings were created by residents of our skilled nursing community as part of our ongoing creative arts therapeutic program, led by recreation director, Carrie Deppong, dance/movement therapist, Kelsey Gangnath, and Linda Strober, art therapist. Residents created the pieces while observing dance movement and listening to musical selections inspired by winter melting into spring, explained Deppong.
“The goal of these sessions is to help residents express themselves. Sometimes, they’re working through difficult emotions that may be hard for them to talk about.”
For example, the watercolor selected for the traveling exhibition was created by Thomas Glover, a former Brooklyn resident at United Hebrew since 2020. His reflects the heaviness of winter. A second piece by Kirstin Cott, selected for the Leading Age headquarters gallery, focuses on the rebirth of spring and has a lighter feel. A third piece, created by Yolette Green, a short-term rehabilitation resident, was selected as a finalist for display.
“It’s so interesting to see what the residents produce in reaction to our art stimuli,” notes Deppong. “For those who aren’t ready for conversation, art is another way to show how they are feeling. It helps us meet them where they are emotionally.”
A fourth work was selected by Leading Age to receive an honorable mention, and it was created by Deppong herself. The watercolor was painted after the passing of her beloved dog Cookie, a collie-shepherd mix who was a friendly pet visitor known to all at our skilled nursing home. “I’m not typically a watercolor user, but this medium felt free forming and appropriate for the way I was feeling. I don’t think it does Cookie justice, but it was a healing process for me,” she explains.
Over 200 works of art were submitted from 48 organizations to Leading Age. “We are tremendously proud to see our resident and staff work selected among the 70 winning works of art,” notes Deppong. “It’s a real testament to the strength of our program.”