A Partnership Art Activity to Connect to People with Dementia
Most people with dementia need facilitation to create art. The reason that many people with dementia participate in art activities is because they want to make a connection and form friendships. This art activity is a connecting bridge to friendship.
The exercise illustrates the possibilities of using pre-existing imagery to spark connections, conversations and bridges to memory. This is a way to build friendship through art making that does not require the person with dementia to create from scratch. Creating conversations with collage provides stimulation from a wide variety of colorful imagery that sparks a dialogue between the facilitator/caregiver and the participant with dementia.
The aim of the exercise is allow two people to equally express who they are and “meet in the middle” in a collaborative artwork.
In a care home setting this activity has the potential to build bridges with a person with dementia and also has the potential to provide a fulfilling activity with very disabled individuals living in care as well.
Meeting in the Middle with Collage
The caregiver/facilitator encourages the artist with dementia to find imagery that he/she likes and assists them in making a collage. The invitation is to talk about why the artist likes each image, what memories it evokes and what feelings are inspired by each image. Together, facilitator and artist practice the art of taking a creative journey together.
First Half of the Exercise
The facilitator encourages and helps the artist with dementia to create a spontaneous collage on 8-1/2” x 11” card stock.
Second Half of the Exercise
Participants then switch roles. The facilitator/caregiver creates a spontaneous collage on an 8-1/2” x 11" piece of card stock that will later be taped together and joined with first collage. While making the collage the facilitator/ caregiver shares the process of creation by talking about what she/he likes, remembers, and is inspired by in the imagery.
Final 5-10 Minutes
Both participants are then to find a way to connect the two collages together. After joining the back of their two collages together with tape, they can discuss what they both share in common. They can discuss how they are different. They can then find a way to make the two collages – “one joined creation” - by adding collage elements that overlap over the two collages.
This exercise has been adapted from the e-book How to Start an Art Program for the Elderly.