My neighborhood – also home to other Woodson Art Museum staff – is engaged in a “Teddy Bear Hunt.” Inspired by Michael Rosen’s children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, neighbors display child-friendly items for viewing by children during walks.
It’s winter in Wisconsin. It snows. It’s cold. It’s windy. Winter 2019 is record-shattering. Records set throughout more than ninety years for numerous permutations of weather data – one-day, one-month, and annual snowfall totals and low temperatures – are crumbling.
I typically anticipate my slot in the “Woodson Wanderings” posting rotation. Storytelling is what I do; it’s the creative filter through which I experience the world. This time I became stuck, until I focused on a recent spontaneous creation that SPARK! participants sculpted from modeling compound. It means the world to me. May a modicum of all that SPARK! is – for individuals with memory-loss and their family members, friends, care partners, Woodson volunteers, and staff – find its way through my blogged-down thoughts and into this post so that you can delight in it, too.
Fresh from the successful opening weekend of the 42nd Birds in Art exhibition, I’m pondering squirrels. I tend to be fairly deliberate in my work. I like lists. Spreadsheets are my friends. I enjoy planning my calendar and filling it with color-coded notations. I schedule “impromptu” messages to my daughter, a first-year college student. So, I can relate to the industrious squirrel scurrying about gathering and storing for the . . .
Sunday afternoon’s SPARK! program for individuals with memory loss and their care partners at the Woodson Art Museum, September 21, 1-2:30 pm, fittingly follows Saturday’s nationwide walk to raise awareness for Alzheimer's care, support, and research. I continually witness sensory-rich, interactive SPARK! programs at the Woodson break through and ease the isolation and depression that those with dementia often experience. SPARK! participants gather to view artwork and engage in related multisensory activities that incorporate movement, music, scent, and tactile objects. During a recent visit, one participant rose from his wheelchair to dance with me, displaying deft footwork! Subsequent group discussions and hands-on art making often evoke reminiscing, laughter, and feelings of belonging.
An idea cast forth into the world can cause ripples that continue to touch many lives. My life was changed in 2009 when Helen Ramon, program officer at the Helen Bader Foundation, initiated a call to Wisconsin museums to develop programs for older adults. For me, a Woodson Art Museum educator, that "challenge" led to the opportunity to learn about an innovative program for those with dementia and their care partners called “Meet Me at MoMA” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ideas, methods, and best practices based on MoMA’s program subsequently were implemented at eleven Wisconsin museums. These museums formed an alliance and named their respective programs "SPARK!". Each museum tailored the program to fit the needs of its visitors and its specific environment.
Programs sometimes come together effortlessly. At other times, gathering information or confirming details can feel like herding cats. Then there is the program that seems to drop out of the sky and into our laps. Such was our experience last week that began with an intriguing email message from formidable... Read More
It’s 7 am on January 27, and I’m off to Superior, Wisconsin, to attend a conference, “Healthy Minds and Healthy Bodies throughout the Second Half of Life.” I’ve rented an SUV with all-wheel drive and feel confident that I’ll arrive in one piece. I made it as far as Colby... Read More