The Merion’s Art Exhibit showcases The Hands of Life Display

It’s said that you can tell a lot about a person and the life they’ve lived just by looking at their hands. This very thought caused Isaac Gadsden to create a unique photographic exhibit that showcases the hands of his neighbors at The Merion senior living community in Evanston, IL.

The Hands of Life display is one of many pieces that were showcased during The Merion’s annual art exhibit. Gadsden’s exhibit included 50 photographs of residents’ hands. Gadsden took the photos in The Merion’s Arts and Crafts Studio. Similar to portrait sessions, each resident was asked to rest their hands in a certain way to best showcase the differences and similarities in each pair of hands.

“There are so many varieties of hands, particularly when you get older,” Gadsden said. “They can show a lot about a person and the life they’ve lived and their career. You also can see flaws in the aging of hands, like arthritis.”

Taking Old Passion to New Heights

Isaac has enjoyed photography as a hobby for the last 40 years. After moving into The Merion four years ago from Delaware, he’s had more time to continue exploring opportunities to share his passion with his neighbors. 

“It keeps me active,” he said during an interview with McKnights Senior Living. “ It keeps me doing something that I used to do many years ago. It lets me get back at it, and that’s what makes it fun.” 

Gadsden initially did the display in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it was a smaller showcase, many residents enjoyed seeing his work. In 2023, he decided to retake the photos. After making the announcement, more residents decided to get involved. 

“You get different reactions to the photos,” he told Evanston Now reporter Jeff Hirsh. “Most people have difficulty recognizing their own hands unless, say, there is an identifier such as a ring.” 

Gadsden enjoys the opportunity to continue engaging with his neighbors through photography. There are many health benefits to this therapeutic activity that have been found to sharpen the mind and help with depression and anxiety. Studies show senior photography can:


  • Boost Brain Activity
  • Clarify Visual Details
  • Improve Mental Health
  • Encourage Social Interactions
  • Influence Life Expectancy

Gadsden is not only active in photography but the fitness classes as well. “I enjoy staying active and in good shape,” he said. “I take classes in the community and enjoy spending time with my neighbors.” 

The Merion knows the importance of seniors maintaining an active lifestyle as they age. The Cook County, IL., independent living community offers a variety of senior programming options and lifelong learning opportunities. 

The community also focuses on exercise programs by offering many physical activities, including yoga, dance classes, and meditation. The seniors enjoy regular physical activities throughout the year to improve their quality of life.

Explore Your New Hobbies at The Merion

The Merion takes lifelong learning to new heights. Here, residents like Isaac can explore abundant options and expand on their long-held interests while making new friends. As Evanston’s signature senior living community, we offer a wide variety of independent living senior apartment floor plans to meet your budget and needs. 

The Merion has a vibrant spirit in an urban setting. With a number of amenities and services at your fingertips each day, you’ll have more time to explore new hobbies and pastimes. 

Connect with us to get more information about life at The Merion.