Farm & Art Studio
Whispering Brook Farm & Art Studio is located in Tolland, CT, on a historical, rare piece of protected land where creative art and nature classes take place year round. Individuals and small groups of adults and younger children with and without multiple challenges come to build relationships with animals, art and nature. In their experiences on the farm and in the art studio, people transform in their personal growth by learning about themselves and their dynamics with others. Through exploration and expression students gain confidence, knowledge and empowerment.
ABOUT THE OWNER
Karen Yarosh’s childhood passion for painting was influenced by a great-uncle who cared for her in infancy. He was an avid artist and an improvisational musician from the Vaudeville era. With her uncle’s guidance, Karen learned how to communicate through art even before she could connect through speech.
Early, throughout her school education, and outside the of the rich programs offered, she studied with other artists after school, culminating in her formal studies at Paier College of Art with professionals from New York in both Fine Arts and Commercial Freelance work.
Karen taught art informally in private settings and after-school programs. Over the next twenty years, she worked with Disney-owned Jim Henson and Associates and had other commercial print jobs within the graphic arts industry. At the same time, Karen continued teaching and opened up studios both large and small in the northeast region of Connecticut.
Returning to school, she earned her second degree in the field of Psychology at Albertus Magnus College; a Psychology Major with a focus in Art Therapy. Karen’s practicum assignment was with the dually diagnosed at River East, a program of Natchaug Hospital. In conjunction with earning her degree, Karen worked for five years within a community health care agency in a residential psychiatric program.
The populations included people of all ages with a wide variety of diagnoses, socioeconomic, and multicultural backgrounds. Working side by side with families and individuals, Karen was a liaison to therapists in shelters, facilities, and private homes state wide in Connecticut.
It was after relocating her studio from a commercial zone in Tolland to a private farm in Columbia, CT, that Karen discovered the need for two nonverbal modalities. Art and Animal Assisted Therapy provides for a more enriching exploration of identity. To fully learn about this crossover, Karen began formal training in Eagala, an Equine Assisted Therapy. This began the combined application of the Eagala model of Animal Assisted Therapy with Art Therapy.
Recently, Karen returned to Tolland, moving both her art studio and farm animals. The gift of moving to her current location is that it offers more accessibility to her client base, highways, and the offerings of the land. It is a more private, rural, and protected property.
Karen is honored to own and be the steward of part of Joshua’s Trust, which offers trails, a rich history, a handicap accessible studio, and the opportunity for agricultural programs. Students from UConn, E.O. Smith High School, and even Wormley, England come to study with Karen for agriculturally based learning.
Karen has shared that during many times of her personal life challenges, it was the creating of art that helped her. The animal relationships transformed her life in profound ways. It is these personal experiences in art and with animals that have led her to do the work and offer the programs at Whispering Brook Farm & Art Studio.
“The smiles I see on my students when they connect with an animal, when they create a piece of art that really expresses something inside that’s right, the boost of love that the animals and nature unconditionally give out, and the many priceless benefits of the learning process confirms an internal empowerment," Karen says.
"The organic relationships that form from that environment and those experiences, the reassurance of animals that look forward to this relationship benefit them too. When someone tells me their heart has opened, or something within has shifted, I see the gratitude in their eyes. With the earth being respected, admired, the lessons learned, taught by all, my students follow and lead. They listen and they feel, creating a part of a network of variables leading to healing.“
Today, Karen continues teaching and facilitating unique, diverse personalized programs at Whispering Brook Farm & Art Studio.