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Window art

Student artwork brightens days for health care center residents

Posted: September 1, 2011 5:03 p.m.
Updated: September 2, 2011 5:00 a.m.
Ashley Lewis Ford/C-I

Students in Derek Napper’s Camden High School art class painted windows several months ago to be displayed at Springdale Healthcare Center in Camden. Napper, who now works as a commercial graphics instructor at ATEC, said his students were eager to do something that “a lot of people would be able to appreciate.”

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Residents at Springdale Healthcare Center got a nice surprise this summer.

Several months ago, Camden High School (CHS) art students began painting nearly a dozen windows to be donated to the Camden nursing home. Some of the projects have been displayed in Springdale’s hallways, and Don Deppe, the center’s admissions director, said residents couldn’t be more pleased.

“Oh, the residents love it; they have just really enjoyed it. For someone with the beginning stages of dementia, the artwork can just brighten up their day,” Deppe said. “The therapy that they receive from this, you just can’t match it.”

Derek Napper, a former CHS art teacher who now teaches commercial art classes at the Applied Technical Education Campus (ATEC), said he jumped at the chance to have his students donate pieces of their artwork to Springdale.

“A few years back, we did a large painting that went into the nursing home, and the former director of nurses there called me again and said she had access to some old windows. She had this idea of turning them into artwork and putting them into the nursing home to really spruce the place up and give it more of a home-feel, and a little less institutional,” Napper said. “Sometimes, hospitals and nursing homes tend to look like that because of equipment and things like that.”

Napper said it didn’t take long to get his students involved with sketching out their ideas on paper after agreeing to the project. Although he gave them as much creative freedom as possible, he also made sure that students had a plan before they began to work on the windows.

The end product, Napper said, was a wide variety of vibrant art projects that he knew would look great at the nursing home. Some of the windows are stain-glass mosaics while others are painted directly on the windows. Some are abstract paintings while others are representational art projects.

“And then there are some where we did paintings on wood panels and attached them to the back of the windows so that you’re looking through the window and you see a scene,” Napper said. “Some of them are going to be hung up on windows and some are going to be on the wall. They’re all different size windows that we worked on and made artworks out of them.”

Napper credits his Art II and III students at CHS, which consisted of juniors and seniors, for doing such a great job with coming up with ideas and producing the artwork. In fact, he added, students were as excited as he was about the opportunity to do something positive for their community.

“I explained what we did before and I told them this would be for the nursing home and how much they appreciate when you do things for them, and the kids were very responsive to that,” he said. “They were excited before we ever actually got the paint out, they were excited about the fact that they were doing something that would be public art and that a lot of people would be able to appreciate it.”

As she sat near a hallway Thursday morning, resident Thelma Bass said she was grateful to all of the CHS art students for donating the artwork to the nursing home.

“Oh, they’re so good, I love it,” she said. “All of the pictures are just so pretty to me. That just means so much.”

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