Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category



They are a part of our composition and we love to tell them, share them, remember them. Our identity is wrapped up in the stories we hold on to. As we go about our daily lives, we accumulate these stories in the back of our minds, saving them for a rainy day. These stories contain drama, sadness, joy, and even the mundane. The irony is often we don’t realize the sum of our days become the best story of all. The coffee shop we went to every Tuesday morning, the neighbors we waved to, the countless late-night phone calls to friends, our drive to work, the books we read, our favorite songs—they come together to create a tapestry of life bursting at the seams.

As we grow older, the details of our lives get buried underneath more pressing needs, such as physical health, ability to walk or move or breathe well. I’ve observed older adults often lose sight of the vital importance of sharing these experiences. Thankfully, this internship has been an experience of re-capturing the stories of the residents at the Ohio Masonic Home’s Memory Care facility. I get the honor of sitting with them and intentionally asking about their lives before Alzheimer’s disease since often with memory loss it’s the more recent events that are harder to retain while experiences from youth are in sharp focus.

One resident in particular who is always eager to share about her life while we make art together, consistently talks to me about her husband. She recounts how they met, the simplicity of their lives together, the places they’ve travelled, the friends she misses, and the way he loves her. As she tells me the beautiful tale of their life I get to watch her eyes light up underneath the dimming fluorescent lights of the nursing home. Talking about her beloved reminds her soul and deteriorating mind that there is beauty even now—even in the reminiscing.

Art has this beautiful process, where in the midst of creating we are transported. This transportation enables us to access different parts of ourselves and our brain. It is not a simple task biologically speaking but it is a simple task of creativity. The projects we do with the residents are not complex—if they were I’d be in trouble because I’m not much of an artist! Our approach is to encourage them to express themselves and not worry about what others see in their creations. By doing this we are forcing them to let their brain do abstract work rather than just working their motor skills and following directions.

This process of being transported has also been called “flow” by positive psychologists. Martin E.P. Seligman in his book Flourish discusses this concept, “The second element, engagement, is about flow: being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity… In flow we merge with the object” (Flourish, pg. 11). Getting to “flow” is so important because of its repetition – it occurs every time that our residents make art – and is essential in the progress we make every week to engage them in self-expression. In a study done at The George Washington University, data supports the type of interactions and conversations we have with residents as it relates to flow. “Flow also may be experienced throughout the art therapy process; for example, post-art making discussions between clients and therapists (which we would identify as meaning making) can take on elements of flow, as do communal moments in the studio when time feels suspended and collective magic seems to happen” (Chilton, Wilkinson, pg. 6).

There is wealth of knowledge and research that I will continue to delve into in the coming posts, but for now I will end with this: the process of art-making for therapeutic purposes encourages the stories of our residents to come to life again which in turn causes them to come to life. This is a rewarding field that deserves attention and recognition.

Guest Blogger: Maddie Schick (Psychology major, Cedarville University, ’19) and Springfield Museum of Art’s education intern for In the Moment: Art Unlocks Creativity, Spring 2019.



Rebecca A. Wilkinson & Gioia Chilton (2013): Positive Art Therapy: Linking Positive Psychology to Art Therapy Theory, Practice, and Research, Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 30:1, 4-11

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011) Flourish. New York, NY: Atria.



Something that we all take for granted, the ability to function without assistance as our muscle memory automatically does what is required of us.


Is to know our own name and where we are at all times—to recognize the faces of loved ones surrounding us and trust that tomorrow has a plan.

These are the things that the beloved residents I work with at the Masonic Home do not have the luxury of possessing. We often do not think about our ability to remember and recall with ease but my internship at the Springfield Museum of Art has placed it at the forefront of my mind. I can easily recall what my plans are for the day, I can know deep within my identity, I can eat or speak or walk in confidence and it never occurred to me that those with dementia truly struggle with these tasks and more than that—that those with dementia have lived full lives like us  and many still possess the faint memory of being independent deep within them. This makes it frustrating beyond belief to then be confined to the deteriorating state that is Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure and no way to halt deterioration but maybe just maybe there is a way to improve the quality of life these individuals have. As a Psychology student I constantly focus on the diagnosis of mental illness and the various symptoms that are presented in an individual and often it can be a relatively negative outlook. When I began this internship, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but I certainly wasn’t anticipating the positive impact it is having on my attitude towards psychology, senior care, and art.

Every week Curator of Education Annette Eshelman and I plan an art project that is doable for the seniors but also requires them to express themselves creatively. I spent the first few weeks adjusting to the environment at the Ohio Masonic Home’s Memory Care unit and getting comfortable with talking to the residents while I assisted them with their paint brushes, materials, etc. At every session something deep within me occurs—a well of respect and admiration rises up. I get the privilege to come in every week and take the time to listen and really hear what these residents are saying; stories evoked by creating art that they recount about their life before Alzheimer’s.  I am inspired to be working with these older adults and see the ways these residents continue to give life to things around them. As I hear their stories I am humbled that they would want to share their life with me, and it reminds me that this disease has taken so much away from them, but it has not taken their spirit.

Often, assumptions are made about the elderly and their capacity for learning, especially those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This internship has made each assumption fall to the ground as I’ve observed these residents share their stories and use unfamiliar art materials to creatively express themselves; we truly can learn so much from them. These blog posts serve to inform and educate but also call us to deeper understanding of what it means to care for those with dementia through creativity and the arts.

Guest Blogger Madison Schick, psychology major, Cedarville University ’19, and education intern for In the Moment: Art Unlocks Creativity, spring 2019.

In the Moment: Art Unlocks Creativity is made possible with support from the HealthPath Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Ohio Masonic Home.