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Tea bag artworks support ‘Healing Through the Arts’ program for seniors
Pieces available at 2018 Re-Hatched Artist Market
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Artwork by Jason Smith, a local veteran, was available during an auction fundraiser in Gainesville on Sunday, April 22, 2018. - photo by Kaylee Martin

Celestial Studios in Gainesville was alive on a rainy Sunday afternoon as art lovers came to support the Healing Through the Arts program at a High Tea fundraiser.

Organized by the Quinlan Visual Arts Center and The Guest House, the event featured sales of tea bag art made by members of the community and those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Healing Through the Arts is an outreach program of the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville. The Quinlan has successfully provided art opportunities for underserved members of the community, but until recently, many of the programs had been limited to children.

In 2014, the need for a senior citizen program was realized, and the Quinlan made it a top priority.

“The Guest House is like a daycare for seniors, with most of our clients coming from Hall and surrounding counties,” its executive director, Dana Chapman, said. “In addition to providing them with medical care, we also do activities with them like music, games and crafts every day. We were very excited to be able to partner with the Quinlan.”

Several of Quinlan’s artists have been trained to work with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, including Mary Frances Hull, Fox Gradin and Joe Emery, who teach them painting, sculpture, ceramics, book making, mosaics and more.

“The artist volunteers will show the patients examples of the crafts they will be doing on a certain day, and it’s absolutely stunning to see what they can produce,” Chapman said. “Many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are very fidgety, so being able to work with their hands is calming, therapeutic and helps them to focus. We may not be a certified therapy program, but we want to help make their quality of life better.”

Healing Through the Arts was originally funded by a grant awarded by the North Georgia Community Foundation. With only five more months being fully funded, the Quinlan is seeking additional help to continue the program.

“This is the first year we have ever held a fundraiser like this, and through    doing so, we hope to educate others on ‘Healing Through the Arts’ and inspire them to help out,” Chapman said. “With community support and donations, we hope to be able to continue the program years from now and expand to other centers.”

For the instructors, the experience is just as rewarding.

“I’m definitely not a therapist, but my mother had dementia so I can relate to what the family members of our patients are going through,” instructor Mary Frances Hull said. “Every now and then you’ll see a spark — a moment of remembrance — in the eyes of someone you’re working with, and they’ll hug you or give you a kiss on the cheek. It’s a great feeling.”

For those who missed the High Tea fundraiser, the tea bag artwork will also be available for purchase at the annual Re-Hatched Artist Market during the Spring Chicken Festival on Saturday, April 28.

“Any pieces that we don’t sell today will be at the artist market on Saturday, and we will have several new ones for sale too,” Paula Lindner, Quinlan’s assistant director, said. “The market is always a fun opportunity for us to spread the word about local art and our programs.”

Re-Hatched Artist Market

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 28

Where: Downtown Gainesville square