Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia stars of Clemson art show

Credit: Clemson Downs

“Pic” — short for Picasso — never knew he had an inner artist when he was the chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company. Painting was a part of his personality that perhaps was discarded while he still was in elementary school. Clemson Downs memory care artists at work - 2016 (3)

Alzheimer’s disease has stolen the once dynamic business leader’s core identity, but left one creative gift in its place: his ability to paint. Pic paints nearly every day, says Ruthie Millar, marketing specialist at Clemson Downs, a Clemson senior living community of 215residents, including 32 who are memory care residents.

Pic’s paintings will be among the more than 40 paintings featured at an art show held Monday, Nov. 21, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Central-Clemson Regional Branch Library, 105 Commons Way in Central. All of the featured work was created by people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia diagnoses.

“Art is a positive aspect of this dementia diagnosis,” Millar says. “The families want the paintings to frame them and share them with other family members because they’re representative of the person they love who is still very much there.”

Clemson Downs’ Alzeimer’s and dementia patients have been painting in the facility’s creative studio with help from Clemson University art and communications students for the past semester, as part of a collaborative effort initiated by Stephanie Pangborn, an assistant professor in Clemson’s communication department.

The memory care residents have worked with watercolors, acrylics, and other mediums, Millar says.

“They painted fall themes and pumpkins, sunflowers, tiger paws — there are a lot of Clemson fans,” Millar says. “These artists can share and create what they want, and there are volunteers who assist them if they want help in painting or choosing a color.”

Visitors to the Central-Clemson library can meet both the artists and their family members on Nov. 21. The show is for the one day only, Millar says.

“The residents are excited about the show and are looking forward to showcasing their art work,” she says. “It’s a representation of them and not the disease.”




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