Love what you photograph and photograph what you love.
Participants of the Early Stage program “Discovering Connections” (DC) completed the spring Photography Workshop and acted as hosts and hostesses at the sixth annual Photography Reception held at the Alzheimer’s Association.
The reception featured outstanding photos and accompanying prose; it was the culmination of several months of work by the DC members. Since the visual arts offer a way for people with early stage memory loss to connect with others, participants had the opportunity to express themselves artistically, engage socially and share their own creations. They were guided by wonderful volunteers – professional photographer Jimmy Hemphill and published poet Barbara Hemphill.
As Jimmy taught the basics of good picture taking, he emphasized “love what you photograph and photograph what you love.” With disposable cameras or their smart phones, the participants captured images that appealed to them. Many selected ones associated with strong memories. Once a favorite photo was chosen by each participant, they worked hard to create a meaningful poem that reflected their picture. Barbara explained the concept of ekphrastic poetry which is writing that comments on another art form.
The wide range of emotions captured by these artists included:
- Calmness (“My Tranquil Place” by PJ)
- Humor (“Roses And Cows” by Lois)
- Playfulness (“Lizzy” by Bob)
- Wonderment (“There’s Something About Water” by Will)
- Despair (“Can’t Stop The Rain” by Will)
- Contemplation (“The Path Of Life” by Michelle)
A special feature to this year’s reception was the addition of music
A talented trio of musicians from the Da Camera Young Artist Program was led by cellist Sonya Matoussova. This spring, Sonya conducted a music workshop with the participants and then attended all of the photography workshop sessions. The musicians captured the essence of each participant’s photo and poem, turning them into beautifully sung and/or spoken masterpieces accompanied by an original soundtrack. Rounding out the trio were percussionist Danielle Chan and soprano Bethany Podgorny. The Da Camera Young Artist Program offers opportunities for emerging professional instrumentalists, singers and composers. It provides career-expanding experiences and training to the next generation of artists, encouraging them to create music for the community. Their contribution to this event was immeasurable.
Early Stage family members and friends, Alzheimer’s Association staff and invited guests all enjoyed a light lunch and were able to browse through previous years’ exhibits as well as this newest offering. Many favorable comments were heard and overheard!
There are people who understand what you are going through, and help is available. There is much you can do in the early stage to cope with the changes ahead.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can leave you feeling disconnected, isolated or abandoned from others. You may feel unsure of where to turn and that no one can possibly understand what you’re going through. People living with early-stage Alzheimer’s have stated that one of the most important lessons they learned early on in their diagnosis is this: they could not just wait for others to help them – they had to go out and help themselves to the best of their ability.
Whenever facing difficult times, having a good support network you can turn to for advice and encouragement may help you feel socially connected and give you a sense of belonging and purpose. Make sure your network includes other people who are living in the early stage of the disease. Connecting with others like you may help put your own experiences living with the disease in perspective, and provide you with the support and encouragement necessary to move beyond your diagnosis.