La Loma University’s College of Fine Arts awarded top honors
By Shanna Hogan
Retired engineer Lynn Snyder had not picked up a paintbrush since he was a child. But an art class at La Loma Village, where he lives, awakened a forgotten muse inside him. Today, he’s a budding artist
“The painting is great. I’m not very good at it, but I’m trying,” Lynn says. “I’m learning to blend paints together to get the color that I want. I’ve gotten a little bit better.”
Lynn and dozens of other La Loma residents, might not have discovered their inner artist if not for the Julia Sweeney College of Fine Arts.
La Loma University’s popular art college recently won the 2018 Best Practices Award from LeadingAge Arizona, a nonprofit leader in education and advocacy in aging services.
About five years ago Windy Hadley, La Loma’s life enrichment program director, along with other staff and residents, developed La Loma University to provide opportunities for residents to keep learning.
“There was a need for lifelong learning here at La Loma Village that was evident,” Windy says. “The residents were wanting more variety of intellectual offerings.”
Working under the guidance of a resident committee, Windy and her team successfully launched La Loma University in 2013. However, a year-and-a-half ago, she realized something was missing.
“We had an amazing program, but we were missing one component that’s really important,” Windy says. “And that was the fine arts.”
For months, Hadley collaborated with members of La Loma Village’s Life Enrichment team to research, develop and launch the Julia Sweeney College of Fine Arts. That included the music therapist and the art enrichment life therapist, who previously were not involved in the independent living side of La Loma.
“The team spent hours and hours researching and developed different variations of programing that would be intellectually appealing and fun to everyone, even people who are not artists,” Windy says.
The school was named in memory of former La Loma Village resident Julia Sweeney, an artist who formed the first art club on campus.
“She was beloved,” Windy says. “It was a perfect connection to name the program after her.”
More than 35 percent of the residents attended the initial debut, and the classes have continued to grow in attendance and popularity. Current classes include: “History of Street Art,” “Paint like the Greats,” “Music of the World” and “Composer Spotlights.”
“We used to have zero fine arts opportunities and now we have at last four substantial classes a month,” Windy says. “It’s very exciting to see.”
After that first art class, Lynn continued creating and drawing. He’s since painted flowers and landscapes — something he never imagined doing before moving to La Loma Village.
“Being retired and living in a place like this, I don’t have the responsibilities of taking care of a house or doing all that other stuff,” he says. “So, I have time to devote to something new and creative. It’s really fun.”