"GIVES LIFE MORE MEANING."
Senior with the 2023 Cultivating Connections Cohort
Each year, in close partnership with its parent organization Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven, the CT Garden Collaborative hosts Cultivating Connections (originally called the Senior Garden Experience). Working with an annual Artist-in-Residence, this prosocial opportunity brings seasoned members of the community together while advancing a unique project that celebrates participants’ unique experiences.
2023-2024 Artist in Residence
Story sharing begins with conversation. As a passionate advocate for intergenerational community networks, Kristin is working with the current Cultivating Connections cohort to remember, explore, care, and share. For New Haven County seniors interested in meeting others while helping co-create new expressive oral histories, you're invited to apply today through the following link.
November, 2022 - June, 2023
During the inaugural year of Cultivating Connections, the CT Garden Collaborative welcomed Doug Jones as the first Artist-in-Residence. Doug worked with the registered seniors beginning just before Thanksgiving in a series of conversations he called the "Discovery Sessions". This was followed by a "Creation Session" at NXTHVN in the City of New Haven where participating seniors, volunteers, and a local girl scout troop co-created art using his unique PIXEL Technique. All of the participants expressed positive reflections on the experience and look forward to future projects in this series!
OUR COMMUNITIES AT THE PUBLIC GARDEN'S EDGE
a 2023 Douglas R. Jones original artwork
co-created in New Haven, CT
Thank you to God, my family, the co-creators who helped paint this work, Interfaith Volunteers and Care Givers of Greater New Haven, NXTHVN, and the rest of our exceptional team of community partners. This PIXEL Project brought together people that represent all backgrounds, skill and experience levels, ages, and primary languages. As Mrs. Clarke explains, “[This PIXEL Project] wasn’t something that left anybody out.”
Community members decided that we would paint a landscape that would join together gardens in conversation with the more natural world. I titled this work “Our Communities at the Public Garden’s Edge” to reflect this. An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly flutters in the foreground. We painted a Japanese red maple to symbolize the garden. Garden spaces often include native plants like the North American red maple (Acer rubrum) and the Charter Oak (Quercus alba), and plants found in other countries like the Japanese red maple (Acer palmatum). The Japanese red maple in this painting symbolizes the diverse plants that nurseries throughout New England source from around the world to install in garden spaces throughout Connecticut. The maple’s big red leaves stand out against the bright blue sky like flowers do.
Isolation caused by mobility challenges make many spaces inaccessible to seniors. Cultivating Connections, a program of the CT Garden Collaborative, helps us most because it gets us out of our isolation and it puts us in contact with each other. At the March 10 Creation Session at NXTHVN, 57 community members helped to paint this work. Five more community members helped paint this work from home. We created this artwork together, step-by-step, with a shared vision to develop a community that is intentionally inclusive.
This painting is exceptional because it is painted by the same community that it serves. As Jennifer Baerman explains, “Being part of something like this, [Cultivating Connections] community, gives life more meaning.” As Rose Grenfell explains, “When people get older, like me, there are lots of comments. You hear others generalize our experience and situation. In truth, they cannot fully understand. I’ve faced poverty. I’ve faced limitations of food. I’ve faced challenges getting to my doctors. And I’ve faced isolation. But I still love nature and people. To have the opportunity to realize this, you are able to cherish experiences. This goes beyond the function of money. It addresses the value of living.” As Judith Hayward explains, this project is a practice in Tikkun Olam. Each person painted at least part of a Dot Sheet.
This painting is primarily made of partially painted Dot Sheets that I cut out and collaged/joined together. In this sense, these fragments work for us similar to kintsugi, our time together symbolized by the preciousness of gold. This work truly represents everyone who came together with us.
May 20, 2023