Creative expression lifts the spirit

RALEIGH — The power of art and creativity is not to be taken lightly. It can express thoughts and emotions in ways that simple conversation cannot. It can unleash an understanding or willpower to overcome life’s obstacles. It can help a person to process feelings or move past them by focusing on the task at hand.

Over the course of 12 weeks, participants at Total Life Centers, an adult daycare center, had the opportunity to engage in such art and creativity. With the guidance and support of artist-in-residence, Deborah Withey, artists worked on printmaking, drawing, painting, and collages.

“My desire, challenge, and goal was to create a happy and nurturing hour where participants could lose themselves in the act of creating. Our weekly exercises employed a variety of techniques, mediums, and colors,” said Withey. “Nature is prominently in our work as a way to express a lightness of heart, body, and mind. Many participants can no longer use words to communicate, so we spoke using smiles, gestures, and touch.”

Total Life Centers began on May 15, 1978, in a church fellowship hall as the first State of North Carolina certified Adult Day Service in Wake County. Now, there are six different locations throughout the county, all with the primary purpose of serving older adults and adults with disabilities by providing an encouraging environment through participant safety, socialization, stimulating activities, and individualized personal care. The artist-in-residence program, which was supported in partnership with SearStone and Resources for Seniors, was just one of the many activities offered each day.

“I wanted to increase our participants’ opportunities for free expression through art and bolster their confidence by using a professional artist,” said Mike Hardee, activity director at Total Life Centers.

Now that the artwork is completed, it will be on display at Artspace in downtown Raleigh until the end of March. To kick off the exhibit, opening night will begin on March 3 as part of First Friday, a monthly event in Raleigh for galleries, artists, and musicians to showcase their work. This is a free event open to the public from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at Artspace, alongside other First Friday festivities throughout downtown.

“My experience as artist-in-residence was both enlightening and humbling and has enriched my life as artist and teacher,” said Withey, whose work has been exhibited in several locations across the U.S. and U.K. over the past 30 years. “We hope you enjoy the work we made together.”


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