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Story Quilts Bring Memories Alive

The Saint Therese Foundation has brought some creative, new art programs to Saint Therese senior living communities this year, thanks to a grant it applied for, and subsequently secured funding, from the Minnesota State Arts Board for Creative Support Organizations.

The first class was called Story Quilts and is inspired by African American quilting traditions and styles. Residents at Saint Therese at Oxbow Lake in Brooklyn Park, combined painting, fabric and visual storytelling to create pieces of art that share personal stories, biographies or stories.

About 15 residents took part in the nine-week program which was led by artist Mica Lee Anders this summer. She said the quilts are about bringing beauty to the world. “It’s about sitting with your memories and being able to spend multiple weeks with a memory. It lets you be in community with others.”

Linda Ehler’s story quilt won the blue ribbon.

Oxbow Lake resident Linda Ehler used the flapper-style headband and pearls that she wore at the community’s Roaring 20’s party earlier in the year, to create her story quilt. She used fabric provided in the class to create her artwork, which won the blue ribbon at the Oxbow Lake State Fair event in August.

“I had such a good time at the Roaring 20’s event, and now I have this to remember it by,” said Ehler.

Alice Ellison’s story quilt.

Resident Alice Ellison said she enjoyed the story quilt course very much and learned some new techniques. Her quilt (left) is a scene from a lake where her three kids have property.

Mary Ann Collins is shown working on her quilt with teacher Mica Lee Anders.

Similarly, Mary Ann Collins (right) created a scene from when she was a child in her home state of Iowa. She and her seven siblings would lay outside at night on a blanket and try to identify all the constellations in the night sky.

In her grant application, Jen Bettencourt, vice president of the Saint Therese Foundation, said, “We know how important arts, socialization, stimulation and group activities are for healthy aging, and we’re determined to add to our existing programming with innovative options focused on cultural awareness.”

Next up are programs called Drum Circle, Rhythm & Roots drumming workshop; SAORI Weaving and Creative Movement. The classes are led by artists with COMPAS’ “Artful Aging” program and are specifically tailored for seniors. COMPAS is based in St. Paul and delivers arts programs that are accessible to all.