Monday, March 9, 2015

Making Art Is an Exciting Journey

A while back, Art Sparker pointed me to the Creative Growth Art Center---a gallery and "a professional studio environment for... adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities".

      Artist Judith Scott ^ at work (from here)

The more I follow it, the more exciting and inspiring I find it.
I wonder if Creative Growth ever works with artists with dementia.

Their Teaching Philosophy, from the Volunteer Handbook, I'd like to apply to my work (changing what needs to be changed):
Creative Growth’s philosophy is to encourage clients’ independent art making and creative exploration. Staff and volunteers should not direct or correct artwork. We ask questions about the artwork. We provide materials. We share ideas and challenge the artists. We ask open-ended questions. We help facilitate their independent artistic growth. But we don’t impose our own artistic worldview on them.  
This would need to be adapted for people with dementia. Asking open-ended questions, for instance, is not helpful, while giving direction may be necessary, at least more direction than needed by people who can flip their own switch.

Further, whereas Creative Growth serves people who are or who want to be art makers, most of the people I work with were not "artists" before they got dementia, and that makes a difference. 
Though a lot of them are handy. They made the sort of useful and attractive things people of their generation made: the women worked with fibers and food; the men worked with wood and metal. But some of them do not welcome art-making. I invite and encourage, but I never insist.

Also from the Volunteer Handbook:

It is important to remember not to focus on the condition, but on the person. ‘John Doe,’ for instance, is not an ‘autistic person,’ nor does he ‘suffer’ from autism.
He is John, and he has autism. That’s all. Remember to put the person first, not the label.
I am going to look into volunteering, or at least visiting, Creative Growth. (It's in Oakland, CA.)

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