Ormond Memorial Art Museum expands Art of Healing classes.
Conny Dempsey stares at her in-process piece of art for a few moments. It’s three hands, fingers interwind, spanning across the page.
“Life is our past, present and future,” she says slowly. “It goes on and on and on.”
She’s flipping through magazine, scanning to find the perfect letters to write out “love is” when a woman across the table hands her a piece of decorative floral paper she had been eyeing earlier.
“You are so sweet,” she exclaims. “Now I need some glitter.”
Dempsey is just one of the many students in sold out self-expression healing classes offered at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum. Founded in 2011, the Art of Healing program has used the combination of art therapy research and thoughtful imagination to inspire self-expression for those who have endured tough times. After having a waiting list for the past few months, museum Curator of Education and Outreach Kristin Heron is done sending people away. Starting in August, Art of Healing will be expanded to two classes a month — one at the museum and one at the Florida Hospital.
“I hope to be able to reach as many people as possible now,” Heron said. “I introduce a variety of artful techniques, and present them in a way that is relaxing and fun for everyone. My projects have multiple layers. I want everyone to experience the joy of creating in the present moment, leave with a beautiful piece of art they are proud of, feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence, and then maybe this will translate to another area of life.”
And it seems her students are very appreciative of her creative efforts.
“I love how Kristin infuses meaning into our projects,” Rose Vanderberg said. “We really get to play and connect with each other, and express what's in our hearts in a safe way.”
There was a full house at the museum July 23 for the programs “Healing Hands” class. In this mixed media workshop, participants used collage and a tracing of their hands to represent what they’ve experienced in the past, and what they hope for in the
“Our hands are very personal,” Heron said. “We see them every day, and in many instances they are how we express ourselves creatively. By spending this time really focusing on how we have lived and how we hope to live, we can learn to focus on living with intent every day, and making the most of every moment.”
Rose Vanderberg: seven minutes to sunrise
In the past year Rose Vanderberg has experienced many different kinds of loss.
“I recently retired from being the program director for a nonprofit hospice, and I just moved to Ormond Beach from Winter Park,” she said. “That kind of loss, it’s good, but there’s a loss of what’s familiar.”
Perhaps the hardest form of loss in recent months, was the death of her Uncle Bernie.
“He was a special person,” she said. “He really encouraged me, and was my cheerleader. He gave me lots of love. What made him even more special was that he was my father’s brother, who was also very dear to me. So Uncle Bernie was the last of the brothers.”
Despite the hardships she’s faced, Vanderberg still bears her infectious grin and positive attitude, which she says is easy to have during her art class.
“I heard about the opportunity to express ourselves with art and in a group setting which is espcially wonderful,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends here, and I love living in Ormond now, right by the beach. I timed it so I know in just seven minutes I can be there for the sunrise.”
Charlotte Towe: livin’ in fifth-wheel
Charlotte Towe has lived in four different RVs. She describes her “fifth-wheel lifestyle” with so much confidence and ease that it almost made this writer think about abandoning her own permanent property.
“Me and my husband just sold all of our stuff, and got on the road,” Towe said. “My husband died in 2006 from inoperable lung cancer, so the RV I’m in now is the first one I picked out on my own. He would like it, but it wouldn’t have been big enough for the both of us.”
Currently living in a local campground, Towe said she likes being able to go anywhere she wants, but right now she choses to stay because her sister lives in Palm Coast. With a family history of cervical cancer, Towe is using the Healing Hands class to express her fear of medical issues. Her mother died from complications of the cancer.
“My doctor has offered me a couple of alternatives,” she said. “But I’m not rolling the dice on anything. There’s plenty of time.”
The Heathers: taking a break
Heather Lindsay and Heather Von Horn are ladies who work hard to create relaxation and peace for others with little downtime for themselves. Lindsay works as a flower essence practitioner (a substance prepared from a flowering plant and used therapeutically for its alleged beneficial effects on mood, outlook, etc.), and Van Horn works as a massage therapist for her own business titled Natural Balance. Both ladies came to the art therapy class for a little time to themselves.
“I’ve always used art as a gateway,” Van Horn said. “I’m always going, going, going. It’s nice to take a break and left stuff out.”
“I’ve been through a big transition, and I’m just letting go of the past,” Lindsay said. “I just moved from Maryland, where I had lived my whole life, and I’m really happy to be here, but I'm trying to get grounded. Everything is new.”
Upcoming Art of Healing Classes
The Art of Healing is a free, visual arts program open to anyone in need of healing: patients, caregivers and survivors can all benefit from self-expression. Classes are held the second Thursday of each month at the Ormond Beach Memorial Art Museum, and held the fourth Thursday of each month at the Cancer Care Center of the Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center. Upcoming themes include:
- Design Your Destiny: Belief Box Workshop, 3 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 13 and 3 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 27.
- The Essence of You: Spirit Doll Workshop, 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 24.
- A Home for Happiness: Dwelling of Possibility Workshop, 3 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 8 and 3 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 22.
Call 676-3337 or 321-2229.