Perspectives on Memory

Creative Aging Conference

Friday, February 1, 2019
8:15am – 6:00 pm

8:15 am: Check-in & continental breakfast
9 am – 5 pm: Conference sessions
5–6 pm: Closing reception

Frye Auditorium

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Perspectives on Memory is a one-day conference designed for social and healthcare professionals, artists, educators, and lifelong learners. Continuing education clock hours will be available.

Through the wide lenses of creativity and aging, this conference will explore the topic of memory from multidisciplinary perspectives including psychology, sociology, neurology, technology, as well as the visual, literary, and performing arts. Lectures by international specialists and local experts, including Charles Fernyhough, PhD, and Thomas Grabowski, MD, will present new findings in research and practice that question long-held assumptions about the way our minds work, challenging audiences to reframe their concept of memory.

After check-in and continental breakfast, the conference will begin at 9 am and conclude with a hosted reception following a full day of lectures and interactive presentations.

The Museum Store features a selection of titles related to the conference including:
Pieces of Light: How the Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts by Charles Fernyhough
Her Beautiful Brain by Ann Hedreen

New for 2019! The Frye is partnering with Port Townsend-based arts and education organization Centrum to bring the conference to historic Fort Worden State Park. Friday’s program will repeat on Saturday at this second location. To register for the February 2 conference please visit


Imagining the Past, Remembering the Future

Charles Fernyhough, PhD.

Our memories define us, but they are also notoriously susceptible to distortion. In this lecture, Charles Fernyhough will describe a new scientific consensus which sees memories as constructions made in the present moment rather than faithful representations of past events. Drawing on the latest research from the field, he will discuss why we forget our early childhoods, how our memories are shaped by other people, and how the subjective experience of remembering changes in later life. Treating memory as an act of narrative as much as a neurological process, Fernyhough will explore why our earliest memories are full of light, why siblings remember the same event from their childhoods so differently, and what we can learn from novelists about how the brain situates us in the past. He will show how a rich, multidisciplinary understanding of this fascinating mental capacity can encourage us to enter into a new relationship with our memories.

Charles Fernyhough is an award-winning writer and psychologist. His non-fiction books include The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves and A Thousand Days of Wonder: A Scientist’s Chronicle of his Daughter’s Developing Mind. His book Pieces of Light: How the Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts, was shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Prize. He is the author of two novels, The Auctioneer and A Box of Birds. He has written for Scientific American, The Guardian, Financial Times, and The Sunday Telegraph; contributes to NPR’s Radiolab; blogs for Psychology Today; and is a professor of psychology at Durham University in the United Kingdom.

Personal and Historical Memory in the Context of the Everyday

Gretchen Frances Bennett, MFA

Working primarily in drawing, Seattle-based artist Gretchen Frances Bennett explores issues related to visual perception and the fluid nature of memory, and their combined ability to spark unexpected poetic associations across time and subject matter. Her work demonstrates a preoccupation with small, deliberately ahistorical events, many of them diffuse between past and present—a timelessness further enhanced by the up-close interiority of single images. In this illustrated lecture Bennett discusses how place and memory inform her creative practice, featuring drawings related to her solo exhibition opening February 16, 2019 at the Frye Art Museum.

Gretchen Frances Bennett is a visual artist, writer, and an adjunct professor of fine arts at Seattle University. She received her MFA in visual arts from Rutgers University with postgraduate studies at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her recent projects include Becoming American, San Juan Island, WA; Fire in the Mountains, Jackson, WY; and Bridge Productions, Seattle. A 2017 Neddy Artist Award finalist, Bennett has also been honored with a Seattle Art Museum Betty Bowen Special Recognition Award, a Fulbright US Scholar teaching/research grant in the Czech Republic, and Artist Trust grants. Bennett’s exhibition at the Frye in winter 2019 will showcase new work alongside a selection of key pieces from previous moments in her practice.

Ethical Implications of Technologies for Elder Care and Memory Loss

Clara Berridge, PhD, MSW

Technology is profoundly human. It helps shape, and is shaped by, our social practices, including caregiving strategies. Technologies that support connectedness, safety, and wellbeing are fascinating topics not only for what they promise to do for older adults, but for what they can tell us about cultural perceptions and expectations of old age. Some technologies with a surveilling component raise complex ethical issues and challenge our ideas of privacy, dignity, and autonomy. Smart technologies can track a range of behaviors to detect changes or manage risk with memory loss. For example, smart sensors can track what time someone gets out of bed or how many times they use the bathroom at night and notify family or professional aids. But are these intrusions welcome? With its strong focus on caregiver needs, the industry struggles to ensure that innovation is equally responsive to the aspirations of people living with dementia. Berridge will reflect on the ethical contours of care technologies, illustrating how devices both embody and challenge values that matter to older adults.

Clara Berridge is assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work. She received her MSW from the UW, a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research. Hers wasn’t a straight path to the study of human-technology interactions, but her first research job involved standing at intersections in Philadelphia counting drivers on their cell phones back when we weren’t sure if it was a problem. She now studies the social and ethical implications of technologies that monitor older adults to ease caregiving.

The Many Parts of Memory

Thomas Grabowski, MD

The brain organizes information according to the ways that it interacts with the outside world—through vision, hearing, touch, muscular action, etc.—leading to specialization of different parts of the brain. Brain maturation continues well into adulthood and builds the remarkably stable, yet modifiable, systems that support memory. There are different brain systems for remembering different kinds of material: emotions, episodes, words, facts, skills. Some are affected more than others by the diseases that cause memory loss, which accounts for the specific signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and others. Dr. Grabowski’s presentation will consider how the spared systems may be used to help compensate for the impaired systems; this research provides the grounding for strengths-based programs that promote the ability to live well with memory loss.

Dr. Thomas Grabowski is a neurologist who studies how the brain supports words and language, in its healthy state and in disease, using brain imaging to understand and better approach memory loss and dementia.  In addition to serving as Professor of Radiology and Neurology at the University of Washington, he is the Director of the UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center, heading a clinical team working toward a world in which people live well with memory loss within a community of support. He also aspires to nature photography, in the moment.

When Memory Becomes Memoir

Ann Hedreen, MFA

Memory is fallible and malleable; it is not a constant, clear stream. Memoirists know this. They understand that they are creating a story, not presenting scientific evidence—that their commitment, as they write, is to seek what can best be called emotional truth. The way to begin to access that truth is through the memories offered by the five senses. That’s the first step. What happens next is the most fascinating part of memoir writing: allowing those sense-memories to assist in accessing new insights about the past. In this interactive presentation, Hedreen will discuss examples from great memoirists and lead a short writing exercise.

Ann Hedreen is a writer, filmmaker, and teacher. Her memoir, Her Beautiful Brain, won a 2016 Next Generation Indie award. Her writing can also be found in 3rd Act Magazine and other publications, including her blog, The Restless Nest. She has also won Emmys and other filmmaking honors, including Women in Film’s Nell Shipman award for Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story. Ann earned her MFA in creative writing at Goddard College and teaches memoir writing at Seattle Central College. She is working on a second memoir, The Observant Doubter.

Deeply Rooted: Memories in the Body

Kevin Iega Jeff

Emotional memory may be stored in many places in the body, not just in the brain. How do we access and engage with a memory of an incident, event, or experience that may be felt throughout the body? In this interactive session, dancer, choreographer and educator Kevin Iega Jeff explores the relationship between memory and body awareness. Following a short dance performance, Iega will lead participants in a movement exercise (performed either sitting or standing), and conclude with a group discussion of the experience.

Kevin Iega Jeff is co-founder and artistic director of Deeply Rooted Productions in Chicago and collaborates on a range of community-engaged projects across the country. His work has been featured in several films, including Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, and in the Broadway shows Comin’ Uptown and The Wiz. In 2005, Iega was named as one of the Juilliard School’s 100 Outstanding Alumni in celebration of the school’s centenary anniversary.  Among his other awards are those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Council for Culture and Arts, the BTAA Best Choreography Award, and the Chicago Dance Makers Forum Grant.

This event has reached capacity. To receive first notification of future conferences and programs, please sign up for the Frye’s newsletter.

Please note: we offer a limited number of scholarships thanks to our generous funders and Frye members. All of the scholarships for the 2019 conference have now been awarded. To learn more about how you can support the Creative Aging programs, including funding future scholarships for the Creative Aging Conference, contact Renate Raymond, Deputy Director of Development, at or 206 432 8217.

Creative Aging Programs

The Perspectives on Memory 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 dementia and their care partners, in addition to workshops, conferences, and other events on creativity, aging, and dementia awareness. Offsite, the Frye provides Bridges, creative arts programming to adults living with dementia in community care facilities and in private homes. The quarterly interactive film program Meet Me at the Movies has recently expanded to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and the Rose Theatre, Port Townsend.

Support Creative Aging Programs with a tax-deductible donation, which includes scholarships for the Perspectives on Memory conference. For more information contact Renate Raymond, Deputy Director, Development, or 206 432 8217.

Perspectives on Memory is organized by the Frye Art Museum and presented in partnership with Centrum, with generous support from the estate of M. Jean Fisher, Aging Wisdom, with additional support from the Frye Foundation.

Photos: Ben Gilbert, Wellcome Images; Rustin Thompson; Ken Carl.