Transitional Independent Living


NDFYA California’s Friday Art Group

Written by Dr. Kent Grelling, Ph.D.

In the California program many students would agree that the Friday afternoon Art group is a highlight of their week. The group is led by Jeanette Durand, a professional artist whose work has been shown in galleries in both the Chicago and San Francisco bay areas. While Jeanette works primarily in textiles and painting, she helps students in the program to pursue their artistic interests in a wide variety of media.

She notes, “Often there will be 2 or 3 sewing machines set up with a cutting and ironing station. Other days we have small canvases to paint or use recycled items to collage into a collaborative work of art.”

Jeanette really enjoys teaching the art group and working with students in the program.   “I am proud to be teaching Art to the amazing students in this program. Each person contributes ideas and adds a deep richness to the artistic experience… As an artist and teacher I try to connect with each student using simple tools that can be creative. Sometimes a student will say they aren’t interested in “Art”…..and I say give me a chance…perhaps I can teach you a practical skill of mending a pair of jeans or backpack with a sewing machine. Or create some type of collaborative painting with other students. Finding an individual’s interest can lead to practical or fun art experiences.”

In addition to the artistic experience, the group has become a nice social outlet for students at the end of a long week of school or work. The atmosphere is typically relaxed with music playing, snacks provided, and a great number of students working and socializing. Because of its popularity with the students, the art group has been gradually expanding since the California program opened and now runs 3 hours on Friday afternoons. Those interested in learning more about Jeanette and seeing examples of her own work can visit her website here

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