"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Monday, February 23, 2015

art and alzheimer's

In a last minute attempt to be fully prepared for the Oscars, Eddie and I saw "Still Alice" on Saturday. Like most movie lovers, we try to see as many of the nominated movies as possible.

The two of us are often the last ones in the theatre - even after the credits have rolled by - and in this case, we sat for quite a while.  (It was not only because we were emotionally drained, but we wanted to see who was responsible for the great rendition of Lyle Lovett's lovely "If I Had a Boat.") 

Julianne Moore deserved the Oscar win. She did an amazing job channeling Alice's heart-wrenching journey though early onset familial Alzheimer's.  What really struck me, though, were the care-givers (her family) grappling with the all too common situations into which so many of us are now thrust with our aging parents. Those delicate dances were especially fascinating and powerful. In a way, I think the film was a tribute to caregiving heroes, those who work selflessly and tirelessly to help people like Alice maintain a sense of dignity - and community.

The movie also reminded me of a series of self portraits I saw on BoredPanda sometime last year. I've never quite gotten them out of my mind. 

“In 1995, U.K. based artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is a difficult diagnosis and disease for anyone, but before his death in 2007, Utermohlen created a heart-wrenching final series of self-portraits over a roughly 5-year period documenting the gradual decay of his mind due to this crippling disease.

An essay by the artist’s widow Patricia explains perfectly exactly why these images are so powerful: ‘In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness.’ It’s hard to say whether the changes in his portraits came about due the loss of his artistic skills or due to changes in his psyche but, in either case, they document the emotional turmoil of an artist watching his mind slip away from him bit by bit.”

- Boredpanda










Anonymous said...

We haven't seen 'Still Alice' yet, Gloria, but I found the book compelling and am eager to see the movie. Lyle Lovett's "If I Had a Boat" is one of our favorite cuts from his Cowboy Man album.
This series of photos is simply amazing! Thanks for sharing it. Marti

LDMark said...

I have saved my mother's own artistic renderings as she declined through Alzheimer's over several years. As a Memories in the Making facilitator for the Alzheimer's Association, I am always astonished by how much the patients communicate through their painting when words have abandoned them completely.