The JF&CS Parkinson's Community Quilt
Written by: Stepheny Riemer

JF&CS Parkinson's Community QuiltCreating art is a gift. Art is a process for thinking, observing the world around us, for getting in touch with our feelings, for self-expression of our moods and life's experiences, and for constant learning. It is freeing and uplifting to make something that did not exist before. The time used to create is time well spent.

While creating, the artist is present in the moment, engaged and focused on the evolving project. As one creates, whether in sculpture, paint, fabric, or mixed media there is the thrill and excitement of spontaneity in the process of this meaningful activity. The artist's inner ideas and feelings may burst forth into the artwork. The creation grows with the love that is transmitted through the artist's hand. The piece begins to tell a visual story, with the power to emit mood and emotions through the thoughtful choice of colors; patterns; figures; shapes; textures; motion; lights and darks; composition; and structure of the piece.

The JF&CS Parkinson's Family Support program is a multidimensional, enthusiastic community-based program for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) and their families. In the wisdom of offering a visual arts aspect to their programming, this quilt project was initiated. A group of willing, curious and adventuresome participants signed on to the quilt project. The stimulating and novel activity was coordinated by the JF&CS Parkinson's team of talented and compassionate staff and volunteers.

Starting this new art project presented many questions about the materials and the approach. What do I want to show in my square? What do I want to say through the visual arts? How do I choose from the multitude of fabrics and patterns and colors offered at the quilting sessions? How do I put the pieces together? How will disparate pieces of fabric tell my story, elicit my feelings and become cohesive?

With the guidance of quilters Diana Galson-Kooy and Karen Mondell of DK Threads, the initial uncertainty of the process evolved into focused attention to color, shapes, details, and form from which heartfelt stories and experiences of each participant took shape and ultimately emerged into the participant's completed individual square.

The process of creating this artwork together with the thrill of showing a finished square gave each participant, some together with a friend or relative, a sense of satisfaction, wonder, reward and power that comes with creating art.

What began as twenty individual people whose lives had been impacted by PD completing individual projects, evolved into a moving and magnificent quilt, hung prominently at JF&CS, representing creative artists bound together as a community.