For years the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA) has publicly celebrated the arts by bringing stars like The 3 Painters, comedian Richard Lewis, and Broadway legend Joel Grey to Pittsburgh for sold-out “Art of Aging” blockbuster events.
One of the JAA’s best-kept secrets is the vibrant art scene unfolding on its own campus. Since launching last year, the We Are Art! program has been engaging seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia enrolled in the JAA’s Anathan Club Adult Day Services.
Under the guidance of Arts Educator Maritza Mosquera and visiting artists, club members arrange words into poems, dance the tango, and paint with watercolors. They share their memories and stories. They study famous artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Henri Matisse, and Marc Chagall to provide inspiration for their own creative work.
They also broaden their artistic horizons by venturing off-site to The Warhol, Phipps Conservatory, and other exciting destinations.
When participants come to the Anathan Club, they aren’t passively watching a performance or listening to music. They aren’t making simple, formulaic crafts. They are dreaming. Imagining. Creating. They are artists.
One of just a handful of Hearthstone-certified Memory Care Centers of Excellence in the country, the JAA takes a hopeful, life-affirming approach to memory care. When people living with dementia have a day filled with rich, enjoyable experiences, many of the troubling behaviors associated with memory loss diminish or even disappear. Participants are able to connect with others and focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.
We Are Art! is one of many programs and services offered by the JAA. If you are interested in volunteering with JAA seniors and making a difference in their lives, please email Sharyn Rubin, Director of Resident and Community Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.