Artists express themselves in a variety of ways and mediums. For decades, Edina artist Judy Freeman has created ketubahs—Jewish wedding contracts that are signed just prior to the wedding ceremony and then displayed in the home of the couple. When Freeman was preparing for her wedding 41 years ago, she was encouraged to create her own ketubah since she had studied art at the University of Colorado. Afterward, she vowed she’d never make another. “It was a lot of work,” Freeman says. Yet she’s since created more than a thousand and turned it into a career. Her piece "Ketubah 2000" is displayed at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Freeman’s most recent project has taken her in a new direction that’s provided another way to share her art more broadly. It’s also been a way for Freeman to connect with her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Freeman created a coloring book, L’Dor Vador: A Keepsake Coloring Book, which means “from generation to generation” in Hebrew. For those familiar with Freeman’s work, her distinctive style is readily apparent throughout the coloring book.
“I started doing drawings that my mother could color as part of her care and therapy. I made a super-intricate drawing and made several copies. She colored it many different ways, and she never lost interest,” says Freeman. This eventually grew into something more. The coloring book incorporates Hebrew words within the images, and can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Each page was hand-drawn by Freeman. She created 150 drawings in just three weeks, starting with the Hebrew alphabet as inspiration, then moving to the English alphabet. The publisher selected 72 drawings for the final coloring book.
Coloring is a universal activity. For Freeman, it provided a way to connect with her mother. Today there is a lot of research about the impact of coloring and the arts on those suffering from dementia. An August 2013 post on the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s blog noted the impact the arts can have on “health, communication and expression to promote the integration of physical, emotional, cognitive and social functioning.”
According to Debbie Richman, vice president of education and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota North Dakota, “Focusing energy into a more creative outlet has been found to lessen stress and anxiety in those suffering from dementia. It’s not about the outcome but the process. The beauty of art is that there are no guidelines. Color in the lines or out; it doesn’t matter.”
Additionally, coloring provides a way for the caregiver to connect with the other person in a non-threatening way.
For Freeman, coloring is therapeutic, the perfect art form—easy to do and do anywhere. Her coloring book can be purchased locally at Barnes & Noble as well as online at amazon.com, BN.com, target.com and walmart.com. Learn more about Judy Freeman and her art at the website here.