My Experience With ARTZ Philadelphia

This week I shared an "Art Experience" through ARTZ Philadelphia in conjunction with the Dementia Society of America. On the last Monday of the month, ARTZ Philadelphia shares works from art museums with those living with dementia. This week, works were presented from the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. 

This is all done through a Zoom meeting via the internet. Participants log in and the moderator from ARTZ Philadelphia shares slides of works from the designated museum. She opened up this session with a slide of the Cosmic Egg.  

The Cosmic Egg

Those on the call were asked questions about the egg – what it meant to them, what they saw in it, what colors did they see, what did the egg mean to them, what was it made of, and how big it was were some of the topics discussed.  It was interesting to see what those living with dementia (including me) thought about the Cosmic Egg. Many saw a deep meaning in the egg from birth to life, its reflection of light and reflection of life. One participant saw the egg as creating life and opening up ideas.  

The Cosmic Egg is located outside of the museum and is made of poly styrene and colorful tiles, which also reflect life around the egg. The discussion of the Cosmic Egg went on for a long time and gave those living with dementia an opportunity to express themselves in a way they don't in every day life. Some people were really in tune with the exercise, and I felt like they were very engaged in using their brain in creative ways.

The Love balloon

The second piece of artwork we discussed was a large hot air balloon inside the museum. The balloon was extremely colorful in a patchwork design. In bold letters the word "LOVE" was spelled out across the balloon.

Participants enjoyed talking about the meaning of the word LOVE and what it meant to them. The moderator of the discussion told us that the balloon was 10 years in the making. The artist wanted to make a balloon that actually floated to great heights, but after making the structure realized it wouldn't fly and it became an art installation for everyone to enjoy.

An outlet for self expression

A program like this might be something you want to check out if you have dementia or are caring for someone with dementia.

An important thing to remember about people living with Alzheimer's - there is more to us than our cognitive side. We still have emotions and can express our thoughts. In a setting like the one above no one is judged because they have Alzheimer's.

It isn't a support group. Everyone can relax and know they are participating in something that is real and has meaning. It gives them an outlet to express themselves in a way they probably haven't in a long time. We are more than Alzheimer's. We want to be involved in every day life and art museums are part of life. The Modern Museum of Art (MoMA) in New York City shared programs similar to this as do other arts organizations around the country.

I hope that this will help you to think outside of the "egg" when thinking about those living with Alzheimer's. We are human and still have feelings and meaningful thoughts if we are given an opportunity to share them.

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