Each week, Telfair Museums’ local artists pack up art supplies and head to a nearby community center. These artists play a vital role in Telfair’s community outreach and have one unified goal: enriching lives through art.
In the fall of 2017, they visited several locations across Chatham County, to work with patients at St. Joseph’s/Candler physical rehabilitation facility during their physical therapy sessions. Over the years, the enrichment activities have consisted of many different types of creative art projects; this time they would be trying their hands (quite literally) at plaster casting. Equipped with a mold-making material called alginate, liquid plaster, and a smile, each artist set to work explaining the art of sculptor Auguste Rodin as the table quickly filled with patients interested in the project.
Rodin, they explained, was able to convey the vitality of the human spirit through his bronze sculptures. He captured movement and emotion by altering traditional poses and gestures, creating his own unique form of artistic expression. One of the ways Rodin’s sculptures differed from those of other artists of the time was through his insistence that a part of a figure—such as a torso or a hand—could by itself convey meaning and thus be a complete work of art.
With that, each patient reached their fist into the alginate mixture before them. As they held their hand still to create a mold around it, the sense of community and support was remarkable. They turned to each other to offer help, propping up elbows or providing a pillow to make one another more comfortable. They shared words of encouragement and marveled at how well the finished molds turned out.
For some, the casting process was a fun project that, for a few minutes, took their mind off the physical therapy exercises they would soon return to. For others, it was a challenge just to keep their hand still enough to create the mold. For these patients, the final product was all the more rewarding. As the plaster was poured into the mold and set to dry, the result was not only a near-perfect cast of each fist but also a symbol of how far they had progressed through their rehabilitation journey.
Telfair Museums’ community outreach partners with locations throughout Chatham County to foster appreciation and understanding of the arts.