Art on the Mind: Ten Years of Creative Aging

November 14, 2020 – November 14, 2021

Many of us know or have known someone who is living with dementia, a condition in which people experience a shift in their perception of the world due to changes in the brain, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type. Individuals living with dementia have a wide spectrum of abilities and experiences, and the acts of creating and discussing art introduce new forms of self-expression that meet different needs.

In the past decade, the Frye Art Museum has presented a variety of Creative Aging programs, including small-group experiences in the galleries and art studio, one-on-one art-making in care communities, and conferences and workshops on creativity, dementia, and healthy aging that bring together social services and health-care professionals. Designed to alleviate some of the social, emotional, and financial challenges that a person living with dementia may face, the Frye’s Creative Aging programs serve as opportunities to deepen their life experiences, foster friendships, and build community through art.

This exhibition shares stories and works of art that highlight the experiences of people living with dementia, their care partners, and those who help make the programs happen, including teaching artists, volunteers, and the Creative Aging Advisory Committee. Their experiences are testimony to the success of arts engagement programs in bringing joy, respect, and dignity to people living with dementia while destigmatizing the disease. 

Art on the Mind: Ten Years of Creative Aging is organized by Mary Jane Knecht, Manager, Creative Aging Programs, and Michelle Cheng, Director of Education and Community Partnerships. Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Richard and Maude Ferry Foundation, the Frye Foundation, and Frye Members.

Kirsten Kinnan, Margot Hughes McDonald, and Emma Levitt Royer, Untitled, 2020. 36 x 24 in. Acrylic on paper, applied collaboratively in response to the rhythms of music Photo: Jueqian Fang.

Kay Grant Powers. Untitled, 2016. 17 x 12 in. Watercolor on paper. Photo: Jueqian Fang.

Creative Aging gallery discussion, Frye Art Museum, 2020. Photo: Katherine Lamar.

Creative Aging art-making class, Frye Art Museum, 2018. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.

Creative Aging art-making class, Frye Art Museum, 2017. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.

Kirsten Kinnan, Margot Hughes McDonald, and Emma Levitt Royer, Untitled, 2020. 36 x 24 in. Acrylic on paper, applied collaboratively in response to the rhythms of music Photo: Jueqian Fang.

Kay Grant Powers. Untitled, 2016. 17 x 12 in. Watercolor on paper. Photo: Jueqian Fang.

Creative Aging gallery discussion, Frye Art Museum, 2020. Photo: Katherine Lamar.

Creative Aging art-making class, Frye Art Museum, 2018. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.

Creative Aging art-making class, Frye Art Museum, 2017. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.