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updated: 4/10/2013 10:11 AM

Elder Stories Inspire Student Art

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  • Lexington Square resident Laurie DeCarlo's image is portrayed by artist Claire Cornell, a senior at York High School.  Cornell drew footprints in the background of her piece to signify her subject's love of dancing and so many fond memories over the years.

      Lexington Square resident Laurie DeCarlo's image is portrayed by artist Claire Cornell, a senior at York High School. Cornell drew footprints in the background of her piece to signify her subject's love of dancing and so many fond memories over the years.
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Seventeen advanced placement art students from York High School are looking for a good match when they first walk into Lexington Square at the beginning of their school year. They enter the senior living community to meet 17 residents who will be the subjects of their own living history in the artwork the students will create using their chosen medium.

According to art teacher Kelsey Manning, "This project is so much more than just creating a portfolio piece for their advanced placement in college." She explains, "Often a bond is created to a lasting friendship between the partners."

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Ms. Manning also noted the curious way the students choose their partners to learn about and create a portrait with a life story. Students tend to gravitate to someone they can relate to such as someone their own size, a similar laugh, a love of animals.

Once the artwork is completed, the students welcome the seniors to the high school for lunch and to explain what their piece means to them and why they chose that particular medium to tell the senior's history. The artwork is then displayed at Lexington Square in Elmhurst for residents and guests to enjoy as they enter the building.

Each piece is very special and captures the senior's love of something. Resident Laurie DeCarlo's image is portrayed by Claire Cornell, senior, in pen and ink with footprints in the background to signify her love of dancing, how she met her husband and so many fond memories over the years. Student Patricia Rhea chose pencil to draw the married hands of Patricia and Jack Golen who told Patricia that the most important thing in their lives was their love for each other.

The experience often sparks a lasting friendship between the senior and their artist. One such resident, Violet Larson, along with several other "partners" recently hosted four of the artists as their guests for lunch at Lexington Square. From ongoing visits, to pen pals and sometimes years of Christmas card exchanges, both students and elders find the project rewarding in many ways.

Lexington Square is a premier independent and licensed assisted living community that offers memory support and a lifestyle rich with experiences that make life worth living. For more information, contact 630-576-4800 or visit their website at www.lexingtonsquares.com.

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