Wellness Blog

"Wellness is not the absence of illness but the presence of purpose in life; satisfying work and play, joyful relationships, a healthy body and environment— and happiness"

BLOOM artwork featured at Nonprofit Partnership

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Artwork from BLOOM Collaborative has made some new occupants feel at home at their new location.

Seventeen pieces of client art, including two large murals, adorn the new home to the Erie Nonprofit Partnership inside the Carriage House at the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Transformational Philanthropy, 609 Walnut St.

“The client art provides a community-based dynamic that has a significant narrative to it,” said Lee Steadman, Director of BLOOM.

In December, the Nonprofit Partnership moved into the newly renovated Carriage House from its previous location inside the WQLN studios at 8425 Peach St. The Hirt Hagen Center was created as part of a $10 million gift from the Hagen family to fortify the Erie Community Foundation’s mission of assisting nonprofits and charities in the Erie area.

The nonprofit partnership is a membership-based branch of the Community Foundation that provides education, training and tools to strengthen nonprofits.

To see more photos of the artwork, click here.

Blossom's clay classes mold artists

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Jane grasps a potter’s needle and meticulously scores the edges of a piece of clay she has rolled and cut out in the shape of a fish.

“It’s just like baking,” she says, setting down the tool that resembles an X-Acto Knife.

“Except instead of egg whites, you use this,” reaching for a nearby jar of slip — a creamy bonding agent made with water and dry, powdered clay.

Jane (left) has made navigating her way around Blossom’s Clay Studio second nature since she started attending classes shortly after they began in February. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, she is one of eight individuals taking part in a class inside the state-of-the-art space on BLOOM Collaborative’s campus.

Though she doesn't exactly view herself as a professional, Jane knows it's not a prerequisite. 

“It’s not that I’m a phenomenal artist — because I’m not — it’s just that I can come to a place where we as people with mental illness don’t have to explain ourselves and we’re all on the same level,” she says.

Providing instruction and materials to sculptors of all skill levels is one of Blossom’s hallmarks. With five classes for BLOOM and Stairways clients that range from beginner to advanced and average about 10 students, pottery instructor Jessie Simmons said she likes seeing artists produce works — whether they’re experienced or getting their hands in clay for the first time.

“I really enjoy getting beginners to try something new that they’re not familiar with,” says Simmons (right), who has been throwing clay since the age of 12. “People are always surprised with what they are able to accomplish and that’s a really great thing to witness.”

With a kiln, shelves of raw and glazed works, spinning wheels, including a wheelchair-accessible wheel, and more room than any ceramics studio in the area, Blossom’s is unique among clay spaces in Erie.

It’s an appropriate setting for a unique medium like clay, which is as artistic as it is practical.

“Working with clay is cool because you produce functional items and you can use your artwork in the kitchen or hang it on the wall,” says Simmons, who views her role more as that of support than teacher.

“Some people, it really clicks for them, and I’m just here to encourage them,” she says.

The topic for today’s class is how to sculpt a three-dimensional fish, a piece that each artist has a different vision for. For some, it’s a trout with its large dorsal fin flowing midway down its back. Jane, however, hasn’t yet determined what species she’ll fashion, as she’s affixes its eyes.

“The eyes are what give it character,” she says as she attaches pearl-sized pieces of clay to each side.

A regular at BLOOM, Jane has been attending classes since her case manager suggested the program then called Center City Arts located on State Street. In the seven years since, she’s made an effort to come every day she can to satisfy her need for creativity.

“One thing I’ve always had is an imagination,” she says. “A wild imagination.”

Jane is now almost done with her work but nearly forgot some finishing touches.

“I gotta put on some whiskers,” Jane says, as she rolls out long, thin strands of clay, which she places leading from each end of the fish’s mouth.

“I think it’s going to be a catfish,” she says.

“It can be anything I want it to be.”

BLOOM director uses art to honor, support veterans

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BLOOM Collaborative Director Lee Steadman launched a crowdfunding project benefiting veterans in healing arts programs by creating a chalk drawing with the help of wounded veterans during Celebrate Erie’s Chalk Walk.

The 30-foot-long creation graced State Street as a reminder and tribute to those who have died as a result of their service during the yearly art competition Aug. 18-21.

In conjunction with Pa. Sen. Sean Wiley’s office, BLOOM is raising funds to offer arts therapy classes for veterans. Funding for the campaign supports the purchase of art materials for classes such as drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, fused glass, crafts, yoga and movement.

Donate by visiting https://www.crowdrise.com/bloomhealingarts/fundraiser/stairways. Every $10 that is donated provides one class for a veteran.

BLOOM’s healing arts programs are for anyone who might be experiencing difficulty—or for any or all who would like to explore and express themselves through the healing and metamorphic power of art and creativity.

Above: Artwork as appearing at the 2015 Celebrate Erie Chalk Walk
Below: Artists and veterans collaborate on their work during the Chalk Walk


Stairways clients help bring holiday cheer to those in need

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This holiday season, some Stairways Behavioral Health clients spread some cheer to those in need by creating gift bags for homeless individuals at St. Patrick’s Haven and the Mercy Center for Women.

Clients who participated in “Thinking Wellness and Community” and “’Thoughtful’ Community Service,” two Psychiatric Rehabilitation classes at BLOOM Collaborative, worked on social and cognitive skills while creating gift bags for the men, women and children.

In all, the groups produced 50 hand-decorated gift bags. The bags included a scarf, socks, candy, toys and coloring books for kids, art supplies, toiletries, and a lip balm with a label that reads “You’re the balm. Be well.” Participants worked as a team to make the scarves, put together the coloring books, and choose the personal items. Each bag also included a greeting card addressed personally by a class member.

The classes, which were led by Psych Rehab staff Christine Linkie, Tina Loomis and Michelle Jaggi, charged clients with creating a service project for the holidays. Participants shared how meaningful it was for them to give back to the community.

The “Thinking Wellness and Community” class focused on cognitive skills—for example, memory, planning, and social perception.  Then, in the “’Thoughtful’ Community Service” class immediately afterward, participants practiced cognitive and social skills while working on the gift bags.

The Psych Rehab program offers classes each season at BLOOM aimed at developing skills, increasing engagement, and improving quality of life for Stairways clients.


The contents of men's, boys', girls' and women's gift bags assembled by Stairways clients

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