EDMONTON -- Fern Desharnais is a harsh critic of art, especially her own.

“It was OK, it was OK,” the Benevolence Care Centre resident told CTV News.

She’s referring to a self-portrait she recently completed, now displayed at an entrance to Southgate Mall.

Seniors’ self-portraits

“Well, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing! So it turned out OK,” Desharnais said.

Desharnais is one of a few dozen care residents taking part in the Seniors Advocacy Movement (SAM). It’s an art therapy project where seniors draw their faces, in the midst of a pandemic.

“It’s a way for them to express their feelings and to vent how they’ve been feeling about the pandemic,” said Danielle Portnoy, one of the creators of SAM.

Seniors’ self-portraits

Inspired by the passing of her father before the pandemic struck, Portnoy and fellow University of Alberta medical student Asad Makhani hope the art therapy continues to help seniors adjust when their lives are locked down.

“A lot of them were firstly excited to interact with someone and sit with them, talk with them and joke around with them. And then a lot of them said they hadn’t painted in a long time and this was a great opportunity for them and so they really enjoyed this whole process,” added Makhani.

The program also raises money for holiday gifts for seniors at the Citadel Care Centre in St. Albert.