Dementia, Art, and Legacy

Friday, September 30, 2016
8:30am – 5:00 pm

Registration for this event is closed.
Questions? or 206 432 8200

Dementia, Art, and Legacy is a one-day conference designed for family and care partners of people living with dementia, as well as social workers, healthcare professionals, artists, and educators.

The conference will explore the topic of legacy-making for people living with dementia and introduce creative approaches to support and encourage people with dementia to share their stories with loved ones and future generations. Lectures and hands-on workshops with national and local experts in dementia care and the arts will be offered. The conference will conclude with a panel discussion with presenters and a dance performance honoring dementia and legacy. Continuing education units will be available.

Program and Speakers

Keynote: Our Place in the World: Legacy Work and the Process of Grief

Carol Kummet, LICSW, MTS, University of Washington Medical Center

Of the many losses from dementia, perhaps the most painful is the sense of the loss of personhood—a person's background, history, interests, skills, values, and joys. By focusing on the person and not the disease, legacy work has potential to preserve the personal stories and wisdom of anyone living with dementia. Carol Kummet discusses how legacy work can strengthen the bonds that connect people to one another and can provide an important step in processing the grief faced by both the person living with dementia and their care partner. When a person living with dementia shares what matters most to them and the values by which they lead their lives, they reclaim their personhood. They are reassured that their place in the world is secure and that they will be remembered for their true selves.

Carol Kummet is a palliative care social worker at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). She came to the UWMC with 19 years' hospice social work and bereavement counseling experience. One of the many joys of her work is how patients facing serious illnesses do so with grace and humor. Kummet holds a Master of Social Work degree from Boston University and a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard University.

Every Voice Matters: StoryCorps' Collaborative Storytelling Programs in Healthcare

Eddie Gonzalez, Manager, StoryCorps Community Training and Legacy Programs

In 2010, the national nonprofit StoryCorps launched Legacy, a special program dedicated to promoting the value of storytelling and reflective conversations within healthcare. Since then, Legacy has partnered with both curative and palliative care organizations around the country to offer people of all ages affected by serious illness, including family and care partners, the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories. Legacy recordings take place in a variety of settings, including people's homes. In this session, Legacy Manager Eddie Gonzalez will explain the Legacy program, illustrate how a variety of collaborative teams have used it to develop recording projects within their organizations, share recorded stories from these projects, and propose how communities and individuals can benefit from using StoryCorps' methods and tools.

Eddie Gonzalez is the Manager of StoryCorps Community Training and Legacy Programs. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, he studied journalism and creative writing and was a hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator before joining the StoryCorps Community Engagement team.

Breakout Sessions

Participants will attend each session.

Family Stories

Peggy Vanbianchi, artist

Working on a family-oriented project can revive memories, strengthen relationships, and help people with dementia realize the value and importance of their stories. Workshop participants will create an accordion book that incorporates photographs, words, and collaborative art to tell their family story. Vanbianchi will teach a simple method for creating such a book and demonstrate a variety of art techniques for incorporating color and symbols. Accordion books offer endless opportunities for creativity and self-expression.

Peggy Vanbianchi is an award-winning Seattle-based artist with over 30 years' experience as an educator. She is a certified Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) lead trainer and has conducted many VTS training workshops and facilitations for adults, including art workshops for educators at the Frye Art Museum. Peggy holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from California College of the Arts, and currently facilitates art discussions and teaches art-making classes with the Frye Art Museum's here:now program.

Creative Literary Strategies for Dementia Care Partners

Cathie Borrie, writer

The First Duty of Love is to Listen—with these words, theologian Paul Tillich establishes an excellent starting point for those of us creating a literary legacy centering on the dementia experience. Legacy-creating takes witness-bearing (the honoring and challenging demonstration of love), and gives it recognition and lasting form. During this hands-on workshop, we will discuss literary strategies best suited to generating a legacy and engage in a number of short—and very fun—writing exercises.

Cathie Borrie holds degrees in nursing, public health, and law, but nothing prepared her for the eight years she spent caring for her mother. Along this difficult but unexpectedly fascinating journey she discovered that recording conversations with her mother, writing a book, and learning to ballroom dance were ways to tell both her and her mother's story. The publication of her lyrical memoir, The Long Hello, now available in Canada and the USA, was launched at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC. The work has been adapted for stage. Borrie received her Certificate in Creative Writing from the Writer's Studio at Simon Fraser University.

Picturing a Life: Using Photos, Video, and Film to Create Legacy Stories

Ann Hedreen and Rustin Thompson, filmmakers, White Noise Productions

Photos, slides, videos, and old home movies offer wonderful ways to shape a legacy story. This session will offer practical guidance, including strategies for sifting through photos and video to find the gold: how not to be intimidated by quantity, whether your problem is too much (that's most of us) or too little (one dog-eared photo). We'll also explore how to have conversations about the images you find with a person with dementia and/or other family members in ways that will add meaning and richness to the story, as well as how best to record those conversations. Finally, we'll look at ways to turn this raw material into a simply edited, documentary style film.

Ann Hedreen is a writer, producer, director, teacher, and author of a memoir about her mother, Her Beautiful Brain, which won a 2016 Next Generation Indie book award. She has also won many Emmys and other filmmaking honors, including Women in Film's Nell Shipman award for Quick Brown Fox: An Alzheimer's Story.

Rustin Thompson is an independent filmmaker with more than 30 years experience as a director, cinematographer, editor, and writer. He has earned many Emmys, photojournalism, and festival awards, including several for his film, 30 Frames A Second: The WTO in Seattle. He teaches a class in Lean Team Documentary Filmmaking and is currently working on My Mother Was Here, a personal film exploring his relationship with his mother and the process of moving her from her home of 60 years.

Hedreen and Thompson own White Noise Productions and have made more than 150 short films and five feature documentaries. Their newest film, a legacy story set in Peru and inspired by Hedreen's great-uncle, is titled Zona Intangible.

Dance Performance: Where We Live

Jerene Aldinger, choreographer
Relay Dance Collective

Using dance to honor a legacy, Alex Cann, Katherine Freeman, Austin Sexton, and Diadra Smith of Relay Dance Collective perform an eight-minute work choreographed by Seattle artist Jerene Aldinger to a StoryCorps interview. Jerene has performed and choreographed for Georgetown University Dance Company in Washington DC, as well as Evoke Productions and Relay Dance Collective in Seattle. She is also an oncology nurse who uses dance to inspire, commemorate, and humanize our experiences of aging and illness.


$75 Frye members
$100 nonmembers

A limited number of scholarships are available at the reduced rate of $50. Please contact Mary Jane Knecht, Manager, Creative Aging Programs at for an application.

Support Creative Aging programs, including scholarships for the Dementia, Art, and Legacy conference by contacting Renate Raymond, Deputy Director, Development, or 206 432 8217.

Creative Aging Programs

Dementia, Art, and Legacy is organized by the Frye Art Museum and supported by the Frye Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services MA-20-14-0283-14, The Richard M. and Maude M. Ferry Charitable Foundation, Aging Wisdom, and The PRCN Foundation.

The conference is presented in conjunction with the Frye Art Museum's Creative Aging programs. Since 2010, the Frye has offered here:now, an arts engagement program for adults living with young-onset to mid-stage dementia and their care partners, as well as workshops, lectures, and films on creativity and dementia awareness. The Frye is also piloting a new program for adults living with mid-to-late stage dementia and their care partners, which includes art-making classes at community care facilities and in private homes.

Creative Aging Programs at the Frye are made possible by the Frye Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services MA-20-14-0283-14, The Richard M. and Maude M. Ferry Charitable Foundation, Riddell Williams P.S., Aging Wisdom, Evergreen Association of Fine Arts, The PRCN Foundation, and the support of Frye members and donors.

Advisory Committee

Marigrace Becker
Program Manager, Community Education and Impact, UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center

Dr. Lee Burnside
Gerontologist, University of Washington Department of Gerontology

Lisa Mayfield
Founder, Aging Wisdom

Kavan Peterson
Editor and Co-Founder,

Keri Pollock
Director of Marketing and Communications, Aging Wisdom

Dr. Kristoffer Rhoads
UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center

Roger Stocker
Community Advocate

Amy Hamblin

Patricia Klingler
Public Speaking Coach, Say It and Show It

Joanne Maher
Director of Programs and Services, Alzheimer's Association Washington State Chapter

Frye Art Museum Staff

Mary Jane Knecht
Manager, Creative Aging Programs

Renate Raymond
Deputy Director, Development

Jill Rullkoetter
Senior Deputy Director