An Artful Evening at Prairie Ridge

“Art is a universal language. You don’t need to speak the same language, or even be able to verbalize to be able to connect with one another,” shares Ashley Bostwick, Life Enrichment Specialist at Prairie Ridge.

On Friday, January 24, Ashley and Emily Lueloff (also a Life Enrichment Specialist on the campus), created and hosted “An Artful Evening,” a night for residents and staff to showcase their own artwork. “We wanted this to be very inclusive. We encouraged residents and staff to invite their families and friends,” says Ashley.

Ashley has been at Oakwood for five years and is working on her Masters of Science in Art Therapy and Clinical Counseling at Mount Mary University. Now in her second internship, the concept of community engagement through art is of particular interest to Ashley.

“We really wanted to use the gallery to encourage community engagement, so we decided to create our own campus gallery night,” Ashley shares.

The pair invited all residents and staff to show their art. But she admits, some were hesitant to identify themselves as artists.

“We had several artists who were really eager to showcase their work,” says Ashley, but some took a lot of encouragement. In the end, more than 30 artists (including 9 staff artists) submitted work, and artists from independent living and assisted living had work on display. Gallery submissions were open to all disciplines, and featured watercolor and acrylic paintings, drawings, quilts, and some threedimensional works, including ceramics and woodturned bowls.

With Prairie Ridge’s recent campus expansion now complete, space to showcase art is abundant. Donors helped create two galleries along the main walkway in the Community Center. The idea of art connecting people was a driving force of the event and the turnout was excellent.

“It was packed — there were more people than we could have hoped for,” says Ashley. “Whether you’re creating art or appreciating it, you’re able to connect with an individual in a way that you can’t with the spoken word. Residents and staff were able to get to know each other in a way that they wouldn’t normally as they’re going about their days.”

A set of three colorful clothing items on display in corner of hallway each labeled with small rectangular card

Whether you're creating art or appreciating art, you're able to connect with an individual in a way that you can't with the spoken word.

Inspired by the positive feedback they received from residents, staff, and families, Ashley and Emily are already thinking about the future of this event.

“We’re hoping to do it annually,” Ashley says. They hope to be a part of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Gallery Night — an event held twice a year where businesses throughout Madison display art from area artists.

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