Glassblowers Create Art For Alzheimer’s
University of Cincinnati communications major Rachael Shepler is on assignment with The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati. Jim Callaway, a professional news and commercial photographer, is a Charitable Words volunteer advisor. Here is Charitable Words project manager Brittany York’s report on Rachael’s first “professional” photo assignment.
Charitable Words Scholar Rachael Shepler tried her hand at photography this past weekend at Brazee Street Studios’ Glass for Greater Good—a monthly event in which glassblowers open the hot shop to the public as they create pieces to donate to local nonprofits.
This month’s nonprofit recipient was the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati, which is Charitable Words’ most recent partner and the site of Shepler’s internship.
More than 100 guests attended the free event to see artists inflate molten glass into bubbles to create five unique and colorful vases (pictured is glass artist JW May).
The glass pieces produced this past weekend will be auctioned off May 1 at the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual benefit at Horseshoe Casino. “The Art of Making Memories” will feature artwork produced by participants in its Memories in the Making program, dinner and silent and live auctions.
“At Brazee. we’re always doing events to benefit nonprofits,” said Sandy Gross, Brazee Street Studio’s owner. “We do a lot of community events. I’d love collaboration to be the focus because it’s a big part of it and I’m hopeful people understand that.”
The colorful and interesting event in an art studio provided the perfect setting to make Rachael’s first photo assignment a success. Charitable Words advisor and professional photographer Jim Callaway’s review of her work praised Rachael’s detail and focal length variation, while also providing feedback and editing assistance upon the completion of her first assignment.
“This was my first time shooting photos for a professional forum, so I have to admit I was a little nervous,” Rachael said. “Jim’s feedback was very helpful. I understand how I can improve in the future and am thankful to receive advice from a professional.”
Memories in the Making allows individuals in the early and middle stages of dementia to express themselves through painting and drawing; and throughout the coming months, Rachael will help to capture participants’ experiences throughout the program.
“Rachael is doing a great job with a great nonprofit,” said Charitable Words founder Tom Callinan. ”Aging With Dignity” is among Charitable Words’ fields of focus. “It’s uplifting to see Rachael and other Charitable Words Scholars reach across generations to learn and lend a hand. It’s important work.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures, “one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia,” and the disease’s prevalence is rising dramatically. Today, it’s estimated that an American develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds; but by 2050, the number is estimated to double, with an American developing the disease every 33 seconds.
During a time period in an individual’s life when there is confusion and uncertainty, art provides an outlet that allows one to simply live in the moment.
“I think the biggest success is the pleasure of being involved in the process, and just a sense of being in a normal situation when so many things are changing for the individual,” says Joan Hock, Memories in the Making coordinator. “They get to do something that is very normal, and friends and family see what they’ve done— it’s a way to give them a lot of recognition or praise in a very positive way.”
Rachael said she is eagerly anticipating her interviews with the artists in the program, as she’s passionate about the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission and dedicated to helping the organization showcase its programs.
Art therapy has proven to be a powerful tool for treating Alzheimer’s – stirring memories and providing a means of creative expression. Charitable Words Scholars at Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center also are involved in similar person-centered care through “Opening Minds Through Art.”
“I am grateful that I am in the position to meet these amazing individuals and share their stories,” Rachael said. “Through my writing and photographs, I hope to show how incredible the Memories in the Making program and its participants are.”
Charitable Words connects nonprofits with students interested in internships and careers of purpose. Learnings and experiences are leveraged by engagement by Charitable Words’ network of advisors, volunteer professionals who provide guidance, resources and connections.
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