The Bacharach Dining Room was recently transformed into an art gallery. The paintings of artist Doortje Schipper Fenwick have been on exhibit at Bacharach since early July and a viewing reception attended by friends, Bacharach staff and board members took place earlier this month.
Doortje, a successful architect, artist and business owner, found her life dramatically changed when she had a hemorrhagic stroke in 2009. The stroke caused her to lose the use of much of her right side, including her drawing hand. After spending 21 days in the hospital, her speech was nonexistent and she was unable to eat because of her tracheotomy tubes.
Doortje started her rehabilitation program at Bacharach, where she began to re-learn the basic skills she needed to resume her day-to-day life. She shared, “The occupational therapists at Bacharach were wonderful and taught me how to get dressed and take care of myself. I worked with a speech therapist to help regain my speech. And, through a series of sessions and the assistance of a brace that my excellent physical therapists helped me to use, I learned how to walk again.”
Three years ago, Doortje began painting watercolors. With the help of private, weekly watercolor painting lessons held in the home of local artist and friend, Marilyn Brent, who teaches art at Richard Stockton College, Doortje (pictured on the right above with Marilyn) learned to use her non-dominant left hand to create works of art again. She explained, “I wanted to do something productive that would get me out of the house. The weekly sessions with Marilyn helped me learn how to paint with my left hand.”
Doortje draws the inspiration for her paintings from family vacation snapshots, photos from old issues of National Geographic and famous works of art. Her work has also been featured at an art show held at the Cape May Winery. Doortje’s family encouraged her to create notecards from the paintings that are sold locally with all proceeds donated to the American Stroke Association.
Through her strength, determination and remarkable talent, Doortje has come very far over the past five years. She has made great strides with her speaking through continued speech therapy. Her mobility has improved through the use of a “Bioness” device that works to stimulate the nerves and muscles, lifting the foot without the need for a brace. And, through her exceptional artwork, she is now able to express her creativity again.