Bringing a garden inside

Published 9:18 am Friday, July 17, 2009

Niles Daily Star

Residents of Silverbrook Manor in Niles will soon see their dining hall brought to life by a fresh coat of paint.

Niles High School art students, along with teacher Lisetta Zahm have been busy outlining a mural for the facility have started bringing color to their vision Thursday.

When they’re finished, inside the dining room an English garden themed scene will unfold across the interior.

“We just thought, flowers are peaceful to people,” Zahm said, describing what led her and her students to come up with the theme. “Nature is very soothing to people I think.”
Residents have been watching as Zahm, Ashlee Attwood, a sophomore at Niles High School and recent graduate April Greenle have sketched out a courtyard, country road, gazebo, garden sculptures and a massive weeping willow tree as part of the mural’s landscape, adorned by flowers.

April’s sister Kylie has also been helping out, Zahm said.

Silverbrook contacted the art department at the high school to see if they would be interested in bringing a new look to the room, Zahm said.

“We’ll probably be working throughout the year,” she said.

The students were putting the final touches on the pencil sketches Thursday and Zahm had started with the first coat of fresh, sky blue paint along the gazebo scene.

Zahm added that the residents have been enjoying having the kids around.

“I think it uplifts their spirits,” added Chris Craig, dietary manager for Silverbrook.
Many of the residents at one time or another may have had a garden of their own, she added.

Seeing the new look to their dining room unfold just might remind the time they’d spent in those gardens, she said.

For residents of Silverbrook, “this is their home,” Craig said. “And they don’t always get to go outside.”

The mural brings a bit of the beauty of the great outdoors to them.

For the students, Smith said, they get experience of working on a large art project to add to their portfolio, but the rewards expand to the joy their work will bring day in and day out to those residents.

“There’s an opportunity for art anywhere,” Craig said.

It would be simple to just put a fresh coat of paint on the dining room’s interior, Craig said.

The mural adds a beautiful scenery for so many residents that make their way in and out of the dining hall every day.

This isn’t the first mural that Zahm and her students have facilitated. They recently were responsible for a mural done at the Sylvan Learning Center in Niles as well.
Feedback on the students’ work has been “constant,” said Craig. “I’m just so excited.”