Spruill Center for Arts commits to the underserved

Commitment and community-based initiatives, especially for the underserved, meeting those where they are at are high on Spruill Center for the Arts’ radar.

A partnership with the Rotary Club of Dunwoody and a connection to the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia led the center to start a pilot program designed for individuals living with memory loss and their care partners.

The Arts for Alzheimer’s program is two-fold. “It’s to use the arts to engage the participants that are suffering from memory loss, but the program is also designed to connect their caregivers with one another and to give the caregivers something they can do with their loved ones that is also engaging for them,” said Spruill Center CEO Alan Mothner.

So for example while for someone who is in their late stages of memory loss may not completely understand techniques or the historical context of a painting they are looking at, the caregiver will. There’s that duality of the program where each of the participants - the caregiver and the person who is suffering from memory loss - are both engaged in a uniquely distinctively way,” he stated.

The four-month pilot program will explore various art history and media. The program will be used to tweak and adjust as they learn what works, what doesn’t and to make it sustainable for the coming year on a broader scale.

“Teaching artist Amanda Williams has all the credentials in terms of her background and training, and is the perfect fit for these classes,” said the CEO.

Williams takes the participants through a brief historical introduction of the featured artist and a sampling of their works. Associated with movements such as Realism and Impressionism and with ties to Atlanta, Henry Ossawa Tanner was showcased during the first session.

Using chalk pastels, participants drew inspiration from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.The idea was not necessarily to replicate the art that was shown but to use that art as inspiration to create their own piece,” Mothner added.

Some of the participants recreated the arch, others just used similar colors and others made what they wanted to create.

Amanda’s level of empathy is unparalleled. She really connects with the program participants and draws them into the experience, which for me was amazing to watch,” he said.

The CEO also noted the active engagement, connections and empathy among the participants and caregivers during the class.

“Programs like this give people with cognitive impairment, who have had so much of their independence in life taken away, something very valuable. Moments of intellectual honesty and self-expression (Do you like this work by this artist? Why or why not? No wrong answers, no judgment),” wrote caregiver Sherri Williams in an email to Spruill. “There is joy in creating your own work with new tools and trying new techniques as they are explained. And most importantly, there is dignity and affirmation from your fellow artists.”

Interested parties can call the registration office (770-394-3447) to leave their names and contact info and will be notified when registration opens in early November. For more information, visit https://www.spruillarts.org/

Each Sunday we write about a deserving person or charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To submit a story for us to cover, send to ajc.doinggood@gmail.com.