Fox, a 1999 East Forsyth High School graduate, had always wanted to be a teacher, but after attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she followed a different passion and became a fine arts major with a concentration in sculpture.
Although she had a passion for art, it fell by the wayside when she started a family. She and her husband have three children: Austin, Brett and Colton.
It wasn’t until she decided to leave her job and stay home with her children that art entered her life once again; this time her passion shifted toward painting.
“I used painting as a form of relaxation,” she said. “I painted to learn more about it since I had spent most of my time in college working with sculpture.”
When Fox realized that painting allowed her to express herself, she wondered if she could use painting to help others.
“Painting helped me through my own unique self-expression,” she remarked. “Once I realized that, I started praying about how God could utilize my art to help others. I started to brainstorm about the people I wanted to help.”
Fox said she was really close to both of her grandmothers, so she decided she would like to work with people going through the late aging process as a way to remind her of the time she had with her own grandmothers.
Since she had no formal training in painting, Fox taught herself how to paint by watching videos, through observation, practicing, and by watching senior adults who are established painters.
After reaching out to several organizations, Fox began working with Arbor Ridge at Kernersville in October 2011 and created “Creative Expressions Through the Ages.”
“I started out going once a month, and now I go three Wednesdays a month for one hour,” she said, noting that she now gives classes at other locations. “I think they would do it every day if they could.”
Fox not only works with small groups, but also provides private art lessons for residents who are unable to attend the group classes.
“Families will contact me and request I work with their mom or dad on a weekly basis as a therapeutic activity for them to enjoy,” she said, noting she always travels to her students. “Giving them something enjoyable to focus on during the hour we meet really helps relax their mind, body, and soul.”
When working with aging adults or those with physical and cognitive disabilities, Fox said they start with inspiration, whether from her sources or their sources, such as clippings of pictures from magazines or other things they like.
“Most of them do realistic or impressionistic paintings, and we spend time sketching our work before we paint,” she said. “I am there to help guide and encourage them. I constantly praise them and sometimes have to tell them not to take it so seriously.”
Fox also plays music while giving a class.
“I usually try to play music they like or music from their era,” she stated.
Fox said her students get enjoyment and relaxation out of her classes.
“When they become focused on the painting, they forget about their ailments or the situations they are in,” she remarked.
Fox enjoys giving her students, which she calls her friends, the opportunity to share their stories and past memories with her.
“To bring these memories back to life again, making them tangible in the form of art, gives them an extraordinary sense of hope, fulfillment, and identity in the life they are still living,” she remarked. “Going through the late aging process can be rather isolating, so I like to use the encouraging, ‘I am; I have a purpose; and I still matter’ motto that helps uplift their sense of belonging.”
Along with working at retirement and assisted living centers, Fox works with the severely disabled and people battling hardships of homelessness. She will soon be working with people in rehabilitation centers to offer them a form of therapy through art.
Fox stated that although there are obvious challenges to her job, she loves everything about it.
“I enjoy forming relationships, friendships and hearing their stories,” she said. “I love knowing that I am giving them the opportunity to do something beneficial to them, not only mentally, but physically and spiritually.”
Fox is working on her master’s degree in art therapy so she will be able to use art and psychotherapy together as a form of counseling.
“After I get my masters, I hope that through what I do, I can eventually use art to benefit the lives of people of all ages,” she said.
When Fox isn’t working to bring joy to the lives of others, she continues to enjoy painting on her own, mostly painting with acrylic and creating abstract pieces.
“I also like to make story paintings because I also love to write,” she said. “I like to write a story that goes along with the painting.”
She noted that she created a story painting for her church and donated for “A Christmas in the City” event to Crisis Control Ministry.
The painting for “A Christmas in the City” depicted Christ holding up the city of Winston-Salem.
If interested in learning more about Fox, visit her on Facebook at CETTA – “Creative Expressions through the Ages,” or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-782-5979