We are pleased to feature Ms. Bessie Paris as our Artist of the Month for September. Bessie participates in the Mobile Art classes through Family Eldercare’s Healthy Connections* program. She is dynamic and outgoing – her personality lights up the room! Bessie lives with chronic pain, but she does not let that get her down. In fact, if you were to meet her in person, you would say that she is the embodiment of pure joy. It was this very positivity that lead to her being selected and featured in the Family Eldercare 30th Celebration and Changing Face of Central Texas in 2012.
Bessie grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She moved to Austin 14 years ago after living in Northern California for 30 years. Her son still lives in California and she has a daughter who lives in Pflugerville, Texas. I met Bessie through Art Spark Texas – Mobile Art program which has been providing classes for the Healthy Connections* collaborative since 2015.
Our Mobile Art instructors had been going in person to the eight residential apartment complexes (including the one where Bessie lives) within the city of Austin designated for older adults, to provide art classes for the residents. Since the COVID19 outbreak we have been providing art classes by phone for which we mail supplies and instructions to the participants. We then have a conference call in which the instructor speaks to the participants to review the projects and answer
Bessie says that she is part of the “forgotten generation” and that participating in the creative classes provided by the Living Well! collaborative has brought excitement back into her life. She told us that the art and creative writing programs are her favorite classes from the program. They allow her to stretch her creative wings.
Theresa Zelazny, the Mobile Art Program Director, and Jessica Edberg, Mobile Art Instructor, met Bessie outside of her apartment complex on Sunday, August 23rd, 2020, to chat and take photos of Bessie and her watercolor project inspired by “Four Trees” by artist Egon Schiele. We are amazed by Bessie’s talent. She captured the four seasons in vibrant colors and added a little bird to one of the branches. Bessie said that we need all of the season for growth, the trees are in various stages just like we are: shedding old leaves and preparing to sprout new ones.
Thank you, Bessie for allowing us to share your creativity with the Art Spark Texas community!
If you would like to learn more about Art Spark’s Mobile Art Program, or are interested in participating, please visit “Art Projects You Can Do at Home” or email Mobile Art Director, Theresa Zelazny: [email protected]
*The Family Eldercare’s Healthy Connections collaborative includes classes by Aging is Cool, the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation (Badgerdog), and AGE.