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"Springtime Whimsy" Sharon Israel

About The Exhibit:

“Springtime Whimsy” is a show dedicated to the joys of nature and the world reborn. My work is influenced not only by the tangible, but also colors and movement in the environment around me. I am fascinated by the interplay of both light and dark and the world within the negative space. Each piece of glass is hand cut, wrapped in lead and soldered to create the one of a kind pieces.

MBG: I'm curious about the expressive therapy you did working in Geriatrics, specifically what materials or mediums did you use with this population and what about them made them specifically well-suited to that age group? 

Sharon Israel: Working as an Expressive Therapist allowed me to access all forms of creative expression, from Art and Music Therapy to Poetry and Movement Therapy. The goal of all these creative endeavors was to create an environment of socialization, cohesion, belonging and positive self-esteem. Music Therapy was my “go-to” for many elderly groups. Using a variety of percussive instruments, the group could create their own “band” and play along while I sang the songs they knew. It calmed those who were agitated, brought out those who were isolated and even helped those with memory impairment access memories, thoughts and ideas to share with the group. Art Therapy certainly had its place, allowing me to work with groups and individuals who could add their piece to a larger work, thereby fostering a sense of inclusion. Because the groups I worked with were primarily in nursing homes, all materials had to be non-toxic, lest I turn my head for a minute and someone try to eat a blue marker (true story). 

An example of the type of work I did was to have them decorate a square—using a favorite color, something that had special meaning to them like a flower, or even to just “play” with the given materials, be they marker, pencil or paint. Once dried, their piece would become part of the larger whole—a “paper quilt”—allowing them to express their individuality while also feeling a sense of belonging within the environment. When doing Expressive Therapy, creative thinking is a must. Sometimes you need to find just the right thing for the right person. A woman who was a seamstress had become quite neurologically compromised, but she LOVED buttons. So, I brought in a giant jar of buttons for her to sort, by color, or size. She was delighted by the tactile nature of this activity. Other people who functioned at a higher level really enjoyed Poetry Therapy and/or word games. It served as a stimulating group activity and the works we created were later published in the nursing home's newsletter. Like the "quilt," it was something they could share with family and visitors with pride.  

MBG: It looks like stained glass work is a medium that requires a lot of fine motor skill and control. Were you driven to work with this medium because it is so different than the expressive therapy you had been doing for ten years prior or has making stained glass always been a passion and medium of yours?

Sharon Israel: Stained glass does, indeed, require immense fine motor skill control. Apparently, I have not yet mastered this since I continually cut myself on the sharp edges and never fail to burn myself with the flux/acid and soldering iron. To be honest, stained glass is quite new to me. I only started in 2013 at the suggestion of my mother who saw I was in a creative rut. "Take a class in something new...try something you've never done." Between you and me, mothers are always right. I have been artistic/creative my whole life and have dabbled in everything from photography, graphics, collage, mixed media, poetry, sculpture and stone-work engraving. I have a graduate degree in Celtic Archaeology from University College Dublin, Ireland, and have been fascinated by how ancient people express themselves and their societies through art. Learning a new technique was just the next step in my life-long artistic journey, and a way of continuing my interest in Expressive Therapy by allowing myself to explore a new medium.

About The Artist:

Sharon Israel completed her Master’s degree in Expressive Therapy at Lesley College, Cambridge, MA. This field of Psychology combines art, music, and all forms of creative expression. After working in geriatrics for over 10 years, Sharon now focuses her energy on art, working primarily in abstract stained glass.

Posted by Stephanie Cosby at 8:59 AM


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