Art Therapist Works With Croton Seniors

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Michelle Olson, right, with one of her senior artists Francis Steibel.
Michelle Olson, right, with one of her senior artists Francis Steibel. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michelle Olson

OSSINING, N.Y. -- Michelle Olson is giving everyone a chance in Ossining to show off their artistic side.

Olson is an art therapist who works with senior citizens and helps them produce their own art. Olson's latest students at The Atria on Hudson at 321 North Highland Avenue in Ossining will be having a reception and exhibition of their artwork on Jan. 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Some of the seniors featured in the exhibit, which highlights their creative expressions, suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

"I am very passionate about giving our seniors this creative outlet and living a more creative and fulfilling lives," Olson said. "These senior artists are so proud of their creative works and their voices should be heard.  Their artwork is the perfect way to have their stories, memories, and ideas be shared."

Olson adapts her projects so everyone can participate, even if they have Alzheimer's or dementia.

"I try to make it personal," Olson said. "I want their work to have personal meaning. It might be their memories that make it extra special. I love the process of creating, it allows them to tell the story of their lives."

Olson started her own business having worked creatively with seniors for 17 years. 

"I'm so passionate about it," Olson said. "I've been doing it for so long. I definitely get a lot out of it. 

Students of Olson become fans of hers. Olson said one woman, who is legally blind, never misses a session.

"It's about creating art," Olson said. "It gives her a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It's hard because she can't see very well, but she does it. Sometimes she wants to quit, but I push her. She always does interesting very funny pieces of art."

Aside from the Atria, Olson has also worked at senior living facilities in White Plains and Croton-On-Hudson.

"I get to see seniors in all different settings," Olson said. "Art is an amazing way to have seniors express themselves a bit. It's hard for them verbally."

Olson said she loves working with seniors and hearing them tell stories.

"I feel I have the best job in the world," Olson said.

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