Adult Care Center hosts Art on Brain II

Posted: October 31, 2013

The Winchester Star

Adult Care Network participant Millie Johnson (left) works on one lantern for the Art on the Brain II exhibit while Tara Lescalleet, certified music therapist, helps Marie Jones create another for the show.

Winchester — Every stroke of the paintbrush, every application of glue, and every standout piece of design in Art on the Brain II is meant to send a message — We are still here!

The art was created by clients of the Adult Care Network, a day program for adults who are coping with physical or cognitive challenges and require supervision or assistance, said Tara Lescalleet, certified music therapist. Most are elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The exhibit will be on display from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Bright Box Theater, 15 N. Loudoun St. Admission is free and open to the public, and all of the pieces will be for sale on a donation basis and may be picked up at the end of the evening.

The one-night show brought back for the first time in six years is meant to raise awareness in the community that individuals with various diagnosis are capable of creativity and using art as an expressive emotional outlet, she said.

“It works with their potentials rather than their limitations, which helps their self-esteem,” she said.

The center’s participants created more than 30 paintings on canvas as well as various craft projects and greeting cards, said Tyler Dillingham, art intern.

She and Lescalleet worked with the participants on different crafts that appealed to their senses, especially on the paintings. Each canvas was usually worked on by anywhere from two to 10 people.

“We focus a lot on color and texture and other ways of applying the paint — moving away from traditional brush painting and into more creative and therapeutic ways,” she said.

Dillingham said she likes techniques, such as using bunched up yarn as a paint brush or putting salt in watercolor to create “blooms of color across the canvas.”

Shaving cream was sometimes applied under and over the paint to create a different texture, she said. The participants move their fingers around and experience the rich texture of the cream, engaging their motor skills.

One craft had a participant dipping the edges of coffee filters in watercolor and then having another glue them to a lantern after they dried, she said.

In another project, yarn was wrapped around a balloon, glue was applied to make it harden, and the balloon was popped, Dillingham said. The yarn maintains its shape and can be used as the frame for a lantern.

Some days are messier and more exuberant than others, while other sessions are quiet and rhythmic as a calming measure for the participants, Lescalleet said. By providing a variety of activities, they can gauge which ones work for different participants to engage or calm them.

Some of the participants have aphasia, which is a partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, she said. Art serves as an emotional outlet and allows them to express themselves.

There are about 30 participants, and the majority of them participated in at least some of the projects, she said. Sometimes, however, they are not physically able to manage it.

The center’s participants work on art at least twice a week and have been putting together the pieces for the show for more than three months, Lescalleet said. Staff help and oversee the projects, but it is the participants who produce the work.

“And when the canvases are finished, our participants give each piece a name,” she said. “For people whose disease is often measured by the degree of losses, it is important we recognize skills that still remain.”

Art on the Brain II is not a fundraiser, although the donations for the paintings will help with services, Lescalleet said. The show is sponsored by Winchester Neurological Consultants, allowing it to be all about demonstrating what participants can accomplish.

Wine and appetizers will be available.

Along with the artwork on display, Lescalleet will demonstrate music therapy activities for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Information

The Adult Care Network’s Art on the Brain II show will be on display from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Bright Box Theater, 15 N. Loudoun St. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact 540-722-2273.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com