89.1 WEMU

creative:impact - Creating Joy And Meaning Even After A Memory Loss Diagnosis

Aug 20, 2019

Anne Mondro
Credit Stamps School of Art & Design / stamps.umich.edu

Meet Anne Mondro, an artist whose creative practice is at the intersection of art and health and, specifically, memory loss disease.  She talks with David Fair and Deb Polich about how engaging in art can create meaningful experiences for people with memory loss and their caregivers on this edition of "creative:impact."


Deb Polich, President and CEO of the Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

Anne Mondro Bio

Anne Mondro
Credit Stamps School of Art & Design / stamps.umich.edu

Anne Mondro is an artist and associate professor in the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.  Her research focuses on designing and facilitating creative arts programming for people living with memory loss and their primary caregiver, with the intention of increasing social interaction, supporting learning and discovery and building relationships.  Her initiatives include Retaining Identity: Creativity and Caregiving, an eight-week visual art program for people living with dementia and their care partner, and Between the Earth and the Sky, a yearlong community art program for youth and people living with dementia.

She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant for Between the Earth and the Sky and the Family Caregiver Alliance’s 2015 Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Award in Creative Expression for her U-M course Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts.

Mondro has presented at national and international conferences on creative aging and dementia care including the British Society of Gerontology (2018), 9th Annual International Arts and Health Conference (2017), Culture, Health & Wellbeing International Conference (2017), and the National Center for Creative Aging (2016).  Her artwork has been shown nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Ceres Gallery in NYC, Cranbrook Art Museum, the Powerhouse Museum of Science and Design in Sydney, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Relevant info:

  • Anne Mondro received her BFA from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit before earning her MFA from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.  She came to the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art in Design in 2003, where she is currently an Associate Professor.
  • Much of Mondro's creative practice lies at the intersection of art and health.  She has worked with people living with memory loss for more than 15 years now—she was inspired to do so after meeting collaborators at the U-M Geriatric Center.
  • The "Memory, Aging and Expressive Arts" course that Anne created pairs U-M students with older adults living with memory loss.  Through this process, they get to know the participants and their interests in order create a project to work on with them throughout the course of the semester There is an exhibition at the end of the creative work at the end of the course.
  • Caretakers or people who have loved ones living with memory loss can use her class as a model to create meaningful experiences for themselves and their loved ones.
  • Believe it or not, the work that Anne does isn't really common—she hopes to share the importance of the quality of life that these activities promote, and also hopes to train more people to facilitate this kind of work, especially as the need will continue.  (According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan is currently home to 240,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia, and various sources cite 5 million living with it across the U.S.).

Memory, Aging and Expressive Arts

Students working in the Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts (MAEA) course
Credit Anne Mondro

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Offered in the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts is designed to raise students’ awareness and understanding toward people living with memory loss through shared art experiences.  In collaboration with specialists from neurology, social work, public health and arts in health, students learn about the scientific basis of memory and dementia, the societal basis of dementia, and how to design and facilitate projects for individuals with memory loss.

This course fosters an understanding and sensitivity toward people living with memory loss through shared art making. Students meet with specialists in neurology, public health, social work, and the arts to learn about the scientific basis of memory and dementia as well as the societal impact of this disease.  Students then collaborate with the U-M Geriatrics Memory Loss Program members to create art together.  Through art sessions with people with memory loss, students explore the potential of the arts to serve as an outlet for expression, build key life skills, and learn from community members through shared experiences.

Partnering with EHM Senior Solutions’ Memory Support Center, students and residents meet weekly to explore a series of creative activities together. Through this exchange, students explore the potential of the arts to serve as an outlet for expression, build community relationships and learn firsthand how to foster meaningful interactions for people living with memory loss.  Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts has received national recognition as the recipient of the Family Caregiver Alliance’s 2015 Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Award in Creative Expression.

Resources:

Stamps School of Art and Design

Anne Mondro Bio

Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts Course at U-M

2019 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu