‘Opening Minds through Art’ exhibit on display at Fitton Center

Hamilton – A free public reception for the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) exhibition is being held Thursday, June 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts.

The OMA exhibit will be on display in the student gallery through Tuesday, June 16.

The OMA exhibition will showcase artwork from students in the OMA program, which was founded in 2007 by Dr. Elizabeth “Like” Lokon at Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center. During the reception, guests will also have an opportunity to meet some of the artists and student volunteers that are involved in the program.

“The OMA program was created for those with dementia. The art program was specifically designed for the elders, so that they may flourish,” Lokon said. “There are specific approaches and methods that we try to teach. This is all about the elders taking control and expressing themselves creatively, using the processes that we have designed for them.”

The minds that are opened are not only those of the elders, but the students and volunteers, she said.

“They (the students) become less negative in their views about aging, and they become less prejudiced about people with dementia and they are able to connect better,” Lokon said. “The artwork produced by the elders includes watercolor, acrylic, collage, print-making, and other visual art processes. The result is always abstract art.”

Opening Minds through Art is an intergenerational art program for people with dementia that pairs elders with high school and college students, church members and other community volunteers in a format that allows participants to express themselves by creating art and forming one-on-one friendships.

People in all stages of dementia are involved the program, and those with moderate to later stages of the disease are often encouraged to participate.

“This gives them an opportunity to express themselves, when language is limited, or when conventional ways of communicating ideas is damaged by changes in the brain, or whatever conditions they may have,” Lokon said.

According to Lokon, studies show that dementia sufferers who have an outlet to express themselves artistically are able to experience a greater quality of life. Study evidence demonstrates that creative expression improves the physical and psychological well-being of participants.

Featuring about 100 pieces of art, the exhibition is the result of a collaborative effort between the Fitton Center, Miami’s Scripps Gerontology Center and a handful of area retirement communities – Cedar Village, Heartland of Woodridge, Berkeley Square, Westover, Mount Pleasant, Otterbein and Colonial at Home. This is the first time that the Fitton Center has had artwork from the OMA program on display.

“They are all small-scale, framed paintings on paper, and as far as the content or style, they are all abstracts with a variety of shapes, colors and patterns,” said Cathy Mayhugh, director of exhibitions for the Fitton Center for Creative Arts.

Included with the artwork are photographs of the residents/elders who are participating in the program, along with the volunteers that are working with them as well as quotes by both the artists and the student volunteers.

“You really get a feeling for the time they spend together, the process of making the artwork, and how it makes them feel,” Mayhugh said.

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.