Art is alive and well in several memory care units in local Twin Cities nursing homes where I teach. I use drawing to document and bear witness to the inner beauty revealed by each of the residents' creative work.

My philosophy of "each one in their own way finding their way to beauty" guides me as I learn to nurture the inner nature and interests of those I work with. It is poignant and challenging to perceive the daily struggles of people who cannot hear, see or talk very well. Art transcends those issues. The activities we do together reveal a vital inner stream of creativity waiting to be revealed. Music and song also help us relax into our creative work. I begin each class with a song of welcome, naming each person there.

I am inspired by Jane, who cannot speak much but is happy to be painting. With watercolors and a big brush in her hand she cries out: "Good! Good! Good!" and then paints lush swaths of sunset colors.

Roberta grew up in rural Mississippi, farming and picking cotton. She vividly described her quilt making and how she "whooped the cotton" with a branch to make it flatten down. Another form of quilting was just right for her, using swatches of pre-cut fabric and ribbon that she glued into harmonious quilt squares. These women revealed their inner artistry.

Daily, I do documentary drawing wherever I am. It helps me to navigate the beauty and challenges of life. Even my own serious drawings have a sense of whimsy and humor. My motto: "Nothing is so scary you can't draw it!" has guided me through drawing caregiving, death and intense medical moments. Drawing helps me seek the Divine hand in even the most difficult situations.

Drawing is a natural way to record and document inner feelings more than the outer facts of how someone looks. Drawing becomes relational, as people feel honored by how they are portrayed.

Resilient aging is empowered by people having access to a vital creative life.

Anita White is an artist, teacher, storyteller and caregiver. She lives in Minneapolis and documents life daily.

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