The mission of the Shalom House Art Program is to encourage self-expression through the visual arts for people living with psychiatric disabilities. Our goal is to provide a safe, supportive environment where participants can freely explore and express ideas, learn new skills and discover their strengths and abilities.

About the Program

We offer a variety of classes that appeal to the beginner as well as those who are looking to further their knowledge and skills. The diverse projects engage the clients’ visual and physical abilities and expand their sense of personal and creative potential. The benefits are many and varied as each individual brings a distinct perspective and life experience to their involvement with art. For some, attending the classes provides an ongoing therapeutic effect that helps lessen the intensity of their mental illness. Artists participate in art shows through the year where they have the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work. These include South Portland’s annual Art in the Park, the MECA Holiday Sale, the Cabin Fever Art Show and the Shalom House Hope Awards. The opportunity to learn new skills and to explore one’s creative potential through self-expression can have powerful and lasting results. For an individual living with a mental illness art can be an avenue for self-recovery, a tangible example of what is possible in their lives.  


Art Program Wish List

Help us stretch our limited resources as far as possible with a contribution of supplies, materials, equipment and more from our Wish List. The following supplies will be used.

  • Paint – acrylic, watercolor or oil
  • Canvas – all sizes
  • Markers
  • Paint brushes
  • Fabric
  • Batting or stuffing
  • Glue – all kinds
  • Tools – scissors, carving tools, xacto knives, hammers, nails
  • Paper – colored or white
  • Yarn
  • Beads
  • Jewelry findings
  • Pens and pencils
  • Picture frames

Tenney Swift, Art Instructor

Tenney has been the Shalom House Art Instructor since 2007. A Maine College of Art alumna, Tenney spent six years facilitating an Art Program for adults with developmental disabilities. In 2007 Shalom House approached her about running its program. When she met some of the people at Shalom and got a look at the studio space, she jumped at the opportunity. “I want people to understand that this is a facilitated working studio space,” says Tenney. “I am the facilitator. I don’t stand up and lecture. I want the pressure off, so people are more inclined to come in. You can jump into a group project at any time and you can work on your own projects, too. For some people, it’s almost like coming in and directing their own therapy. They might choose a project that helps quiet their own symptoms. In a way, you’re in the driver’s seat with your own art therapy.” “My number one focus is getting people to feel confident putting their own artwork out there and to also feel confident pricing their own artwork and becoming independent. And I want them to enjoy it here and keep coming back.

Email:  tswift@shalomhouseinc.org Fax:  207-874-1077 Mail: Attn: Tenney Swift Shalom House, Inc 106 Gilmam Street Portland, ME 04102

Art Program Gallery View art created at Shalom's Art Program.