Here is another great article reviewing our Inspirational Memories exhibition that was hosted on January 10 and 11, 2015. This annual exhibition is the result of our innovative and in-demand outreach program for individuals living with early onset dementia and their caregivers. We have an awesome partnership with the wonderful Alzhiemer Society of Sarnia-Lambton that first started in 2013.

Read more about the reception and the program on The Petrolia Topic, here: http://www.petroliatopic.com/2015/01/22/art-sharpens-skills-and-mind

Full text follows:

Hanging on the wall of the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery, a painting by Don Craig offers words of advice.

“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, (but it sure helps), but sometimes playing a poor hand well,” it reads.

The work was on display as part of an exhibit by the Alzheimer Society of Sarnia Lambton on January 10 and 11.

The organization runs group art workshops for people with dementia and their caretakers. The display offered a chance to show off some of the hard work created during the sessions.

“It stimulates your mind,” said Craig.

About five years ago he was diagnosed with dementia and has since taken up artwork as a way of exercising his mind.

“He’s not progressing quickly,” said wife Anne Craig. “I think this program has some part of that.”

Nearby, another one of his works is on display. Painted in blue and black, this one is inspired by a puzzle piece and presented in a mosaic with creations by his fellow artists.

“What happens with a lot of people, as things drop off, they do less and less,” said Anne. “It’s good for the brain (to keep active).”

The organization runs six sessions per year, each two hours long. Half the class is spent looking at the work on display while the other half is doing work of their own on projects inspired by the exhibitions. The display of their work coincides with Alzheimer Awareness Month in January.

“The value in it is absolutely amazing,” said Ileana Rivas, the organization’s support services coordinator. She added that the importance of events like this one go beyond just sharpening up on art skills.

“I think a lot of it is social stimulation,” she said, adding that some members meet outside of class.

“They’re now going out for coffees. They’re socializing outside.”

The art gallery, she said, offers a place where they can feel comfortable.

“This is a safe place for a lot of them.”

Anne said that Don likes to talk to the other artists about their shared experiences.

“They get together and they talk about their challenges with each other.”

The workshops, she said, offer a positive environment.

“You can just feel everybody so happy and enthused… it’s just an amazing thing.”

Don’s skills aren’t limited to the canvas; he’s still exploring different outlets for his creativity.

For Christmas he got a guitar that he plans on plucking away on.

brent.boles@sunmedia.ca