The Evolution of Luthercare's Artist-in-Residence Program

The Evolution of Luthercare's Artist-in-Residence Program

When internationally known, Lancaster-based artist Freiman Stoltzfus started the popular Luthercare Artist-in-Residence program, the goal was to spark the residents’ interest inart further. While the program has evolved since it began nearly five years ago, Freiman says the one thing that remains unchanged is the unbridled joy that art and creativityinspires in residents.

“When you engage in a creative activity, you are stepping outside of time. You are ageless,” says Freiman. “Art reawakens a childhood enthusiasm for creativity —and enthusiasm is found in everyone, no matter their age.”

The Artist-in-Residence program started as a series of workshops, classesand exhibitions. It is now a robust creative arts program that includes road trips to places such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the ballet and music venues for concerts. It also has featured sketching excursions, art appreciation classes, and an art walk through downtown Lancaster’s Gallery Row, followed by a unique dining experience that showcased talented local performing artists. This fall, Freiman also participated in the annual Explore Retirement Living Open House at Luther Acres, where he created an original piece and spoke with visitors and residents throughout the day.

Freiman says the arts are all interconnected, and an appreciation for the arts contributes to well-being. “Music, art, poetry, dance … they are all expressions of creativity,” he says, “and engaging in creative activities whether it’s writing, painting or singing can encourage an unmatched sense of fulfillment, purposeand growth — all of which contribute to aging well.”

Research supports this idea and indicates that making art with others promotes increased self-esteem, motivation and social connection, leading to improved  health and overall wellness. “Study after study reveals how on-going creative arts programs improve the quality of life for seniors,” says Beth Bucher, Community Enrichment and Wellness Manager at Luther Acres. “Through our Artist-in-Residence program, we’ve seen first-hand just how much creative engagement can improve a person’s sense of happiness.”

Freiman says the Artist-in-Residence program complements his central belief that creativity is a lifelong endeavor. “People of every age have creative forces inside of them,” he says. “You just have to tap into that inner creativity, then sit back and watch the joy it brings.”

Freiman’s relationship with Luthercare started with late Luther Acres residents Hess and Marian Haagen, founders of the campus’ Haagen Gallery. The Haagens were long-time admirers of Freiman’s work, and when the Haagen Gallery opened, Freiman’s work was the inaugural exhibit. Inspired by the people he met at Luther Acres through the Haagens, Freiman worked with the Luthercare team to create the Artist-in-Residence program