Retaining Identity Exhibition

Retaining Identity:  An exhibition of artwork

Retaining Identity captures the spirit of creativity and embraces a shared experience.  Partnering with UM Geriatric Center- Silver Club Memory Loss Program club members, including the newer Elderberry (barely elder) group, UM Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design students guided members in art making.  Professor Anne Mondro’s students and club members shared experiences and expertise to create one-of-a kind works of art.

May 11- June 23, 2013, Opening Reception May 28th from 2:30-4:00pm

UM Matthaei Botanical gardens and Nichols arboretum, 1800 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, mbgna.umich.edu (734) 647-7600

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Lessons Learned

The theme of the semester was Lessons Learned.  Every time I teach this course, I too learn a bit more.  I must admit it is a challenge to teach a community engagement course.   I am often worried if I am meeting the students’ expectations as well as my community partners.  I wake up wondering if the bus will be on time and if I have the right materials and supplies.  More importantly, I wonder about the students.  I hope they are connecting with their community partner, hope they are understanding why I selected the readings I did, hope they are enjoying the experience and learning from it.  Likewise, I hope the UM Silver Club & Elderberry members are enjoying the experience.  Every semester I go through the same set of worries.  Now that the semester is over, I realize I should start giving up some of the worries. Observing my students interacting with the community members, I noticed how thoughtful, respectful, and patient they are.  They reminded me of what this class is truly about.

~Anne Mondro, Associate Professor UM Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

A few of more artworks created by Silver Club members during the course of the semester:

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Retaught about Aging and Illness through Experience

My experience at Silver Club was enlightening, to say the least. I feel as if I have been re-taught about aging and illness in a way that one can only learn by experience. I realized that up until volunteering there, I avoided the topic of aging in my head most of the time. Our culture has such an age bias that anyone over the age of forty is seen as irrelevant to modernity, progress, and fulfillment. I want to tell so many people that they are wrong. I want to go on television in a news broadcast and announce to the world that the elderly deserve their place in the media; in conversation. I realized that although I might know more about an iPhone than an 82-year-old, that person knows ten times more about life than me. I could have talked to my Silver Club partner for hours; he always had an interesting story to tell. I heard about his college days, his wife who used to always correct his grammar, traveling abroad, playing in a band, and all sorts of other things.

I also learned about treating human beings like, well, human beings. You can’t assume that because someone has dementia, that they need to be bossed around and worried over like a child. Not only do they deserve more respect, but if you show someone with dementia your true attention and give it a little time, you will see that there is still a strong personality and will in the mind of that person, a mind full of experiences that just need a little prompting to un-tap.

~ Sarah,  UM School of Art & Design Student