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Using art as a brain fitness tool

Woodmere artist Alli Berman visits Lawrence Woodmere Academy

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As fifth graders at Lawrence Woodmere Academy filed into the library computer lab last Friday, Woodmere artist Alli Berman stood at the front of the room, wearing a paint splattered shirt that is brighter than the puzzle art she’s known for creating.

“On Long Island I wear my paint shirts and people recognize me,”

she said.

The reason for Berman’s visit was to unveil her new computer program, App Art, which takes her real-life puzzle art, hands-on art that people can connect through shapes, colors and textures, and puts it onto computers for students and adults to match the vivid colors and shapes.

Though students played with App Art, they were unaware that they were also strengthening their brains in the process. “It’s a game but what the kids don’t understand is that it’s a brain fitness tool too,” Berman said.

The benefits for children who have art in their lives, according to Berman, are immeasurable. “They do better in school, focus better and are better at sports,” she said. “Everything happens in the brain.”

Fifth-grader Carlex Villier loved the different colors of the puzzle art and found it to be an enjoyable challenge. “I like trying to find out where the puzzle pieces go,” he said.

Art teacher Terri Rubenstein said puzzle art gives students a fresh outlook. “It gives the children a new perspective on painting and color,” she said. “And about working with a new kind of art.”

Lawrence Woodmere Academy Headmaster Alan Bernstein stopped in the computer lab to see the students work with puzzle art. “This a great experience for students who working with puzzle art for the first time,” he said. “It opens up their ideas and is a wonderful experience.”

Twenty years ago, Berman began traveling across the world to different schools to allow students to experience puzzle art and its benefits. “Whether they’re in Italy, Bali or in Nassau County, I’m connecting those kids,” she said. “Any kid or adult who uses puzzle art products actually builds brain speed and brain strength. If you can see shapes on the screen and move them quickly into place, you’ll do better in sports because you can come up with a strategy and see the ball quicker.”

Olivia Ramseur, a fifth-grader, said she enjoyed Berman’s visit and learning how to use the App Art program. “Getting to rearrange the pieces was my favorite part,” Ramseur said. “And how to match the colors.”

Berman is also using puzzle art as a form of therapy for those with brain and vision issues as well as soldiers returning home with traumatic brain injuries. For the past few months she has been working with the Community Enrichment Mini-Center on Broadway in Woodmere to exhibit local artists. If interested in displaying your art, email BermanArts@gmail.com or visit her website at www.bermanarts.wordpress.com.