Carolina Village resident Barbara Moore has never been one to stay inside the lines.
Her contribution to a recently unveiled mural at the retirement community in Hendersonville is no different.
“I don’t like staying between the lines on life or on paper,” she said.
Moore is one of about 20 in the community who worked on the mural, titled “A Girl on a Bicycle.” Since March, the group has gotten together for two-hour painting sessions.
The mural consists of 24 panels. To make each piece more individual, contributing artists did not know what the overall picture was going to be. A pencil sketch outline on each panel showed them where to paint, if they chose to.
The work of art is a mix of warm oranges and yellows, along with bright greens and deep blues. It hangs prominently outside one of the village’s activity spaces.
Stephanie Eaves, activity director at the Carolina Village Care Center, describes the project as an amazing collaboration. One employee got the idea after attending a national conference. Residents from the healthcare areas, along with independent residents and employees added to the final work.
A few of the contributors are more than 100 years old.
Moore came to Carolina Village’s Care Center two years ago after a massive stroke. The painting project was one of the first group activities in which she’s been involved. She hopes to continue to branch out in her community.
Prior to the painting, Moore’s artistic expressions were mostly with painting stained glass. On a sunny day, the light illuminates one of her pieces of a bird that hangs on a large window in her room.
“It is joyful art,” she said of the mural.
Moore isn’t the only one who isn’t a fan of staying in the lines.
Ron Metzger doesn’t have a background in the arts, but learned quickly he wasn’t the kind to stay within traced barriers.
Metzger has Parkinson’s disease and memory issues. Before retiring, he was a director at a former mental health center in Henderson and Transylvania counties, Trend.
One of the most amazing parts of the project is it brought residents together and got them involved, regardless of their circumstances, Eaves explained.
After his first painting session, Metzger said he felt as if he'd had an artist inside him all this time.
When he saw the finished project at an unveiling ceremony Tuesday, Metzger was amazed at the result.
“Seeing it up there was just delightful,” Metzger said. “They made more sense with it than I could begin to imagine.”
Some of the residents had a range of creative experience before working on the project, and some did not.
Jane Anderson has always been an artist at heart. The walls in her room are lined with paintings she’s done herself.
When it came to helping out with the mural, she liked to do things her way.
“I did what I wanted,” Anderson quipped, with a laugh.
Gerry Warren used the creative opportunity to use her imagination, she said.
She also proudly shares that she didn’t stay in the lines. “That’s what they’ve said about me all my life,” she said.
Each artist didn’t know how their piece would fit in, or even what the painting was supposed to be.
Warren spent some time guessing at the end result. She thought she was doing a painting of someone looking through a window near a staircase.
Several studies have shown the benefits of arts with older populations.
Arts have the capacity to increase social engagement, improve health, cognitive function, quality of life, and longevity, according to a joint study by the National Center for Creative Aging and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Many residents have expressed interest in doing another mural or similar project.
The plan is to list each artist’s name by the mural, as they are a part of the village’s history, Eaves said.
In her remarks at the mural’s reveal earlier this week, Eaves said the beauty of the piece is that each individual added their own personal touch.
“When the pieces were put together, we ended up with this whimsical piece of art that represents the original image, however more beautiful with the added creativity of the residents and employees involved with the mural,” Eaves said.
Reach Rebecca Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org.