Autobiography Boxes: Art Therapy Project Captures Life Stories   

Central Baptist Village recently hosted a gallery opening featuring the “Autobiography Box” collaborative art therapy project, a project designed to celebrate the creativity and community spirit of CBV residents. Anna Seo, a Hilgos Award winner and first-year student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) chose CBV as the site for her art therapy project. 

Anna invited two other first-year SAIC art students, Saejin Lee and Yunkyung Lee, to participate in the Autobiography Box Making project with three of CBV’s residents: Helen Lanners, Audrey Hautamaki, and Joan Polsinelli. A true collaboration between the art therapy students and residents, this project highlighted the importance of visual storytelling. Using reminiscence therapy, a type of therapy that incorporates storytelling while looking through photographs or mementos, among other activities, Anna and her colleagues helped residents to conceptualize their life stories—their autobiographies–into visual stories with meaningful objects and personal artifacts.

Art Therapy at Central Baptist Village with Saejin Lee & Joan Polsinelli
Saejin Lee & Joan Polsinelli
Yunkyung Lee & Helen Lanners showing creation from art therapy
Yunkyung Lee & Helen Lanners
Anna Seo & Audrey Hautamaki with CBV's art therapy wall designs
Anna Seo & Audrey Hautamaki

CBV held a gallery opening to celebrate the artistic vision and the community spirit of CBV’s residents and the SAIC students. Gallery attendees viewed the Autobiography Boxes, unique to each resident’s life story. This art therapy project brought joy to our residents, giving them the opportunity to recall important moments in their life and to express themselves in a tactile way, two exercises that greatly benefit those who live with impaired memories. 

Joan's life journey created through the art therapy program at Central Baptist Village
Beautiful artwork created by a resident in assisted living Central Baptist Village
Creative display created through the Arts Program at Central Baptist Village

CBV’s Creative Arts Program is a multidisciplinary program that places an emphasis on community building. The program’s focus is on liberation and exploration, creating opportunities for residents to express themselves, explore their creativity, and discover a new artistic identity. This unique program using art, music, and dance/movement is facilitated by professionals and tailored to accommodate multiple levels of physical and cognitive abilities, making it both creative and fun.

As you can see in the photos from our art gallery event, the collaborative Autobiography Project created strong bonds between residents and students as they celebrated their artistic achievements!