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Watercolor renditions of Van Gogh's work by residents at a memory care community.

Purple Art

Expressive Art Programs for the Greatest Generation

Our hands-on learning process goes beyond the traditional “arts and crafts” activities typically offered at senior living communities. Seniors in our programs view and discuss original works of art and create hands-on projects that articulate the richness of their life experience.




A Picture Plus a Thousand Words

In this program residents bring a significant photograph to the group. We begin the session by showing our photos and explaining everything we can remember about it: who took it, what was happening outside the frame of the picture, what the weather was like, the mood of the photo, what people were wearing or what was happening. Those who would like may share with the group. In subsequent sessions, facilitators meet with one or two residents to write a comprehensive story around the photograph. Often when details cannot be remembered, we create a story. The photos are enlarged and the stories edited and printed, then we host a gallery opening to exhibit the final photo essays.

Picture This

In this art history program, a teaching artist brings a print of an original work of art each week. After a mini lecture about the artist, historical period and the piece itself, the facilitator leads a discussion about form, mood, context, content and process. This is highly interactive, fun and a great way to connect residents, staff, and families.


Community Art Walks

After scaling down and moving to a residential community, people often keep just special works of art to hang on their walls. We will coordinate an art walk or exhibit, where residents can show their art and talk about where they got it and what it means to them.


Picture Books

Picture Books explore the connection between memory and visual imagery. In this seven week program, participants develop personal Art Books led by two Bohemia teaching artists. Each week, the group focuses on a different theme intended to stimulate the imagination and memories. Themes include clothing, nature, personal objects, and special events. Participants create artwork using different media that are assembled together as a book. The program concludes with an exhibit, reception and presentation of the Art Books for the other residents as well as the families and friends of the participants.


One on one intuitive painting and collage

Working one on one can be a profound experience when using the process of intuitive painting. To be able to simply move the paint on a canvas, without the worry of a finished product, or anyone else to compare is very freeing... especially for someone who has never painted or been creative. It allows a resident to be expressive and process in a safe, supportive environment. A Bohemia teaching artist works with residents to explore life experiences through paint, torn paper, and collage.


One-on-one or small group art with dementia residents

Using a "process over product" approach, Purple Art facilitators encourage both imagination and conversation, and above all, human connection through a range of media. Our approach centers on a calm, encouraging, quiet and ordered creative setting, and simple, clear prompts for beginning and experiencing the process of painting and collage.

Intergenerational Art Works!

This inter-generational program enables seniors and teens to mentor each other through the creation of art together. Students in high school are paired with older mentors, and over eight weeks they work together to make expressive artworks together. Following initial large group activities, pairs are formed; and each couple creates a shadow box reflecting their shared interests, origins, personal histories, and dreams for the future. Through the experience of seeing new perspectives in a non-traditional format, Art Works! develops long lasting friendships across generations and provides artists of all ages new approaches to creating and thinking about art.


Become a Purple Art sponsor!

To sponsor a program, contact Cindy Parker at

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