The residents at Selfhelp have been given another opportunity to express themselves through a new partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). The art therapy program, a favorite amongst the residents, is overseen by Director of Resident Engagement, Benna Kessler, LCSW, and led by Grace Gimpel, a Master’s degree candidate for Art Therapy and Counseling who is fulfilling her internship at Selfhelp.
During her internship, Grace spent her days facilitating the open art studio on the 2nd floor, she also led an Art Therapy group on the 8th floor for Skilled Nursing residents, and an Art Therapy group for Independent and Assisted Living residents. She also met with residents in their rooms for one-on-one sessions.
“My goal is to help people engage in artmaking or explore new materials,” said Gimpel. Her approach is to let the residents discover their own creative interests and provide materials and expertise as needed to help the residents reach their artistic goals.
“If a resident doesn’t have a project in mind, I suggest projects which are catered to people’s individual skills, interests, experiences, and needs,” she added. Grace also hopes to encourage resident artists to continue creating when the internship is over.
The art group aims to introduce new and creative means of expression for the residents. Through this, Grace has gained invaluable experience and provided the residents opportunities for creative expression.
Another important goal for Grace during her internship was to assist The Selfhelp Home in creating more art spaces. She helped in taking the first steps in converting the former movie theater to an art making and gallery room, and began work on assisting in the creation of a community mural to showcase the talents of the residents. In May, Grace coordinated an art showcase displaying resident art, where residents had an opportunity to participate as artists in an open art gallery style event.
To participate in the program, an art background is not required; everybody is welcome. “There is no need to consider yourself an artist, all that is needed is a desire to keep learning,” said Gimpel. Selfhelp offers a variety of creative and therapeutic activities such as lectures, art history classes, music therapy, play readings, and field trips to the symphony.
Grace is grateful to have this opportunity to meet Selfhelp residents and get to know them better. “This program is showing me how art therapy shows up in residential settings and how people can use art to enrich their lives.”
Something that surprised Grace was the level of artistic talent of our residents. “I was not expecting the caliber of talent I’ve encountered since I’ve been here. Also, the roster of unique activities at Selfhelp Home is staggering!”
Grace completed her internship with us in May 2023. A new intern from SAIC will be starting in September 2023 and we look forward to making this an ongoing program at The Selfhelp Home. Grace was heartbroken to be ending her internship and will miss everyone at Selfhelp dearly.
Grace spearheaded several initiatives at our home, including creating a mural for our lobby and putting together a Resident Art Showcase.
Resident Art Showcase
On May 8, 2023, we had the privilege of hosting our first ever Resident Art Show. This show was Grace’s vision and she brought it to life! It was wonderful to see our residents’ excitement as they put their art on display and shared it with our community. Some of the residents created art professionally in their career, while others created their pieces as a hobby. We learned about each artist’s personal connection to their art as well as their medium of choice.
“Together at Selfhelp” Project
We recently unveiled the mural “Together at Selfhelp”, a beautiful work of art that was created by our residents with Grace’s leadership. This colorful mural is displayed in our lobby. Come and visit us soon to see it in person!