I FEEL, THEREFORE I AM
Six Art Therapy Workshops For Seniors With Alzheimer’s Disease
All artworks in this exhibition were made by elderly people with Alzheimer's disease, without any particular art skills.
The project was born in the "Hug for Alzheimer" association, with Cristian Bissato as the psychologist supervisor, and Ione Capellaro as the photographer, who took pictures of the sessions.
The idea was to run a series of 6 workshops with artistic techniques as pastel and charcoal, clay, acrylic, installation, and group work. The participants were motivated to explore unknown fields of activities, fantasy and sharing their ideas, thoughts and emotions through the filter of art.
Materials were sponsored by Ivan Nesterenko.
Colored Pastels On Paper
This workshop started with tapping pastels on paper as a warm-up exercise. This led to the discovery that tapping also makes dots on the paper. This brought the participants together and helped them concentrate, also surprising them. We then used the flat side of the pastel to create/draw circles and stair-like zigzags. After that, everyone was free to continue working with the image or to start another drawing from scratch. We concluded the workshop by getting everyone to add something to a large paper on the wall, as a memory. Some of the participants drew whatever they wanted almost from the beginning.
Painting A Monotype: Gouache, Brushes, White Paper
A monotype is a very good way to reintroduce colours to a person with no recent experience with colouring. It is quite simple: one paints on a moist glass, then puts a paper on top and presses down. The result can be very surprising; one has less control and less opportunity for a ‘’mistake’’. It must be done fast as well, before the color dries out.
Clay: Modelling A Human Head
Clay is a wonderful material; it can become anything at all! This time, I decided to begin with the trickiest challenge: the head. I prepared a clay ‘’dummy’’ for each participant: just a rough egg shape on a neck. I then asked them to close their eyes and feel their own ears, then do the same on their sculpture, sculpting the ears. That was the starting point for the participants’ projects. In the final stage, I gave the participants some decorations, which they applied to their creations. All participants were very satisfied with their creations, and proposed that they be exhibited in the lobby of the seniors’ home.
A House For Teddy: 3D Group Project, Mixed Media
While thinking about different ideas for a project, I remembered that I have Teddy, my niece’s teddy bear, which she had forgotten at my house. I thought that Teddy deserved a better life. I brought Teddy to the workshop, together with a Cardboard box in which I have cut out windows and a door. I cut out the roof as well to make the box look like a stage model. I had everyone decide how to help Teddy and choose material to work with. Once in a while, I would hand Teddy to one of the participants, to be measured or just to refresh the participant’s memory. At the end, Teddy was very happy! He had a roof over his head, a swinging chair, a bed, curtains, a lamp, a sculpture, picture on the wall, chairs and table, a table map, a garden and a swimming pool!
Night Monotype: Gouache, Brushes, Black Paper
The night monotype began with a table covered with black cloth, and a lighted candle. Although it was daytime, these items made it easier to imagine a night-time motif. The black cloth created the impression of what printing on black paper would look like. Painting on a black surface is very mysterious: everything looks so different!
Basic Shapes in Group Work: Large Sheet Of Paper, Gouache, Sponges, Different Stamps And Fine Brushes
We worked in three groups on one large sheet of paper: one each to produce circles, triangles, and squares. Participants strolled around the long paper covered table, worked with their hands and with sponges cut in the basic forms, in addition stamping different objects like glasses, boxes, etc. Then I gave everyone small thin brushes, and their task was to connect their own creations with those of their neighbours.
After the previous five workshops, the participants were so relaxed that, at one point, hypothetically speaking, the staff and I could go for a walk: we weren’t needed any more.
The Words of Ermida
19 May, after the monotype workshop, Ermida said to me, and the young intern:
"You gave me life. These activities give a new life to us; elderly people, we have not only the past, but a lot of life happening inside of us. For a ninety three years old person, in this way, it's even possible to gain an extra day of life! These things are motivating and giving the strength to go on living!”
At a manifestation for the international Alzheimer's day, which took place at the center of Padua, group of young dancers made a performance with the letters of the word «Emozioni», feelings, every letter was decorated with photos from the workshops.