[The current posts are written by students in Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts. Partnering with U-M Geriatric Centers, Mild Memory Loss, Silver Club Programs, students have been paired with community members to create together.]
Setting up for the exhibition, I was looking over all of the amazing art that the Wisdom Keeper club members have made; paintings, vases, and the most beautiful sketches, a semester’s accumulation of hard work and dedication, on the part of both the members and students. It is amazing that each piece is so perfectly matched to the members; the students did a good job picking out their interests and likes/dislikes. Interestingly enough, this was the hardest part for me. I was so engrossed in her stories of traveling Europe, her passion for history and her love for chocolate, that we barely focused on the art.
We didn’t do many paintings or sketches, or any visual art really, but that could be why she was so proud of our vase. She walked in, commenting on this art piece or that, and when we got to our piece I could see that she was impressed by how it turned out. Our weeks of chit-chat and sharing stories helped create a remarkable and functional piece that beautifully represented the time we spent together. The interconnecting maps of her favorite travel sites, like Amsterdam, Berlin, Ann Arbor, Mackinac Island, sparked another round of stories and memories of her adventures. The stories continued, and I am transported, yet again, to a different time, and a slightly different her. Of course, her vitality, animation, and enthusiasm remain, but when she goes back and relives these important moments in her life, the light she has is so vibrant and explosive. When she reminisces on her travels, and when she looks back on who she went on these journeys with, it is blatantly apparent that the people in her life have shaped her bubbly personality and her outlook on life.
This class has given me a new outlook on both older adults, and how I want to live my life from here on out; I have so much to learn if I just listen to the experiences and stories of the older people in my life, and I should do things that make me happy, have adventures that make memories, and live my life like I am collecting stories to share myself, and to act as the legacy I leave behind.
~Dorian, UM Student