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Class provides creative activities for area seniors

March 3, 2011
By RENEE PRUSI Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - A touch of spring was in the hands of senior citizens in the Marquette Arts and Culture Center at the Peter White Public Library recently.

Aerial butterfly sculptures were made by the seniors under the guidance of MACC teacher Janey Joffee. The project involved recycling magazines, newspapers and other materials to create butterflies, combining them with mirror tiles to produce a piece of hanging art that celebrates spring.

"Partnering the Marquette Senior Center with the arts and culture center gives our seniors a chance to explore their creative side," said Jane Palmer, senior center coordinator. "Every month, we have a different activity with MAAC. It's the last Wednesday of each month and the seniors truly enjoy it."

Article Photos

Working together on the project are, from the left, Pamela Murray, Janey Joffee and Fern Wolf. Joffee plans arts and crafts projects for the senior citizens once a month at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center at the Peter White Public Library. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)

Joffee said she likes to think of new projects for her senior students.

"I came up with (the butterfly) idea because I thought it would be fun for spring," Joffee said. "Butterflies make a pretty theme and then recycling the magazines is a good thing to do."

During the workshop, Joffee offered suggestions to the seniors as they began to find themes for their sculptures. Both she and Palmer went from person to person to offer assistance.

Class members used punch out patterns to cut butterflies from the magazines, newspapers and wallpaper sample books. The butterflies were joined together on thin plastic line.

"We're going to glue mirrors to some of the butterflies," Joffee explained.

Seniors enjoyed the process, finding color themes that pleased them.

"When we string our butterflies together, we have to leave a tail on them," Joffee said.

The women filled the room with laughter as they diligently punched out butterfly patterns, then followed Joffee's instructions for the rest of the steps in making the sculptures.

"The senior art classes are growing in popularity," Palmer said. "Actually having the class meet at Peter White Public Library's Arts and Culture Center also gives our seniors a real hands-on art experience."

While Palmer is there to lend a hand, she said one person deserves much of the credit for the program.

"I credit much of the success of the class to our wonderful instructor, Janey Joffee," Palmer said. "Janey pushes us to 'think outside the box' with her creative art ideas."

For Joffee - a Marquette resident who's an art student at Northern Michigan University - coming up with projects in itself is a fun part of the classes.

"I am really a three-dimensional artist so I like to come up with three-dimensional projects," she said. "I like to make them hands-on. I like to use recycled materials and I think the seniors like that, too.

"I get my ideas through experimenting," Joffee said. "If it's something that I'd want to make, then I think they'll enjoy making it as well."

The monthly class has been a joy for Joffee.

"I love working with the seniors. I have worked with middle school and high school kids, really lots of different age groups. But I have found I like working with the seniors most," she said. "They have great senses of humor. I think they like that I challenge them.

"They get frustrated sometimes as we go along, but in the end, they're so happy," Joffee said. "And that makes me happy."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is



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