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UMRC Residents Express Their Creativity with Clay

On November 15 and 16, a group of 40 Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC) residents got to experience what it’s like to have their own pottery on display! These exhibits, held at the CRC campus, were the culmination of eight weeks of instruction with artist Sandra Drabant of Ann Arbor. Residents learned the intricacies of working with clay in pottery classes made possible by a grant from the Aroha Philanthropies. UMRC Foundation was one of just fifteen nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive a Seeding Artful Aging grant to highlight the importance of the arts in healthy aging.

For many of the class participants, it was their first time working with clay; for others it was an opportunity to rekindle their creativity. “I haven’t done pottery since 10th grade,” says Independent Living resident, Margaret Rink. “This has been such fun.”

All of the students loved their instructor, Sandra, who also works as a Project Manager at UMRC. A native of Australia, Sandra holds degrees in Fine Art, Education, and Art Therapy. “I love to help people find a way to appreciate and express that imaginative and creative part of themselves,” says Sandra.

Other perks of the classes included the opportunity to socialize and make friends with other residents. Carolynn Prough, who began the pottery class while recovering at UMRC’s Kresge Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, continued to come back for the pottery class even after she returned home. “I made such good friends here, and it was great therapy,” says Carolynn. “It was great to feel like a kid again.”

For others, pottery offered an outlet to relax and take a break from the world. “I’m amazed how intent I get when I am doing this, and the rest of the world disappears,” says Independent Living resident, Dorothy Greer. “Sometimes the object takes on a life of its own and shows you what to do.”

“Each piece we did could not be wrong because it is our own creation,” adds Assisted Living resident, Liz Kowalchyk, who participated in the class. “Each one has been an expression of ourselves.”