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Zee Teaching and Zee Benefits

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

I taught art at two nursing homes back-to-back this week, last week, the week before and the week before. With another nursing home sprinkled in the middle. And a benefit for Art Encounter was the cherry on top.

I am one of the teaching artists for Art Encounter’s program called Making For Memory. It is an eight-week workshop for seniors with dementia. The programs’ focus is to make a self-portrait shadowbox embellished with images and other collectables that have meaning to the residents. We started with painting this week.

Painting shadowboxes. Greenview Nursing Home. 2023

We are also asking residents to share their life stories, and man oh man, some unbelievable stories to tell! But here they are, unable to drive or remember or sometimes walk, and they have lived these big, incredible lives. Lives filled with work and family and travel — sometimes all over the world. Each is so eager to share their autobiography, so to speak. One of the residents looked at me and said, “Now, tell me about you!” And like all of us, I have a story, too!

Resident at Paul House, Chicago. 2023

Sprinkled in between was a teaching day at the Sunrise, a place my mom and dad lived. It brought back so many emotions and memories. Some of the residents I remember were still there. I remember them, but they don’t remember me. I taught in the cafe where I used to sit with my dad, sneaking him in a bear claw from Panera. “Don’t tell your mother.” Mums the word, Dad.

Sunrise Nursing Home. 2023

And then the week ended with a spring benefit for Art Encounter and recognizing a great guy that I get the pleasure of working with. Jeff Morthorst, Activities Director, and his team at the Center for Independent Futures were awarded as the Community Partner of the Year. The CIF gang even showed up and some of their artwork was on display.

Center for Independent Futures (CIF) artwork from the Masterpiece Project. 2023

And a shoutout to “Moi” even happened. I was the lead teaching artist for CIF’s Masterpiece Project. It feels easy. I am lucky to be working with a great group of people. And another shoutout to Leslie Luning for all she does. Leslie is the Community Outreach Coordinator and holds it all together for everyone at Art Encounter.

Me, Jeff and Leslie. 2023

So that’s my story. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. And remember, we ALL have a story to tell.

What’s a tidbit you would add to your autobiography? Who would play you in a movie?

Oh, and a happy pride to everyone. Try to practice more pride and less prejudice toward others we see, but we don’t really know their story.

To keep up with Zee art and stories or to follow me on social media platforms, visit

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