This is the last week to see an extraordinary art exhibit at the Osborne Library. The artists all have Alzheimer’s, a condition that progressively and irreversible takes away a person’s mental functions and memory.
The residents live on the Alzheimer/Dementia floor at Actionmarguerite, a personal care home in St. Boniface which is made up of the former Taché Centre and Foyer Valade.
Edna Wieler, facilitator for therapeutic recreation at Actionmarguerite, runs art therapy classes for all the residents with Alzheimer’s who are able to "connect pencil and paper."
Wieler works on art with 13 residents. Thirty other residents with Alzheimer’s are too ill to participate.
Wieler’s classes are small — three to four people or just one person who does not tolerate other people and prefers to work alone.
Wieler supplies her students with brushes, paints and materials such as sponges, cotton and tinfoil for creating texture.
"The residents do all the work," Wieler said. "They come up with ideas and they choose their colours.
"It takes six weeks for one of our resident artists to complete a large painting," Wieler added.
These large creations sit commandingly on top of rows of bookshelves in the Osborne Library.
"Over 100 people attended opening night of the exhibit (on Nov. 4)," Wieler said. "Many family members became quite emotional and even shed tears upon seeing their loved one’s artwork."
One of the residents was able to attend the art opening and answer questions on her paintings.
Wieler has provided information on art therapy in the children’s section of the library.
One quotation on display comes from Peter Reed, former senior director of programs with the American National Alzheimer’s Association:
"Art therapy provides an opportunity (for people with Alzheimer’s) to express themselves even after some of their standard human communications, abilities of expression have gone."
Dianne Doney is a community correspondent for Fort Rouge.