On Sunday night HBO aired The Memory Loss Tapes, the first portion of the new and excellent documentary series, The Alzheimer's Project. Additional segments followed on Monday and Tuesday; it will re-air throughout the month. Since the number of people with the disease is growing exponentially, it's a good idea to understand what may lie ahead for each of us and to learn about the newest advances in treatment that offer hope.
One of the families featured in The Memory Loss Tapes is a woman with Alzheimer's and her daughter, Annie, who is caring for her mother on a Minnesota farm. Like all of the stories told, theirs is heartbreaking, but very compelling. I found myself wanting to read more about the series, so I turned to the internet; a search led me indirectly to Annie's blog.
So how does all this tie in with art, and specifically paper art? Bear with me for a moment...
Their life together is a quiet one, mother and daughter, with a reversal of roles. Annie's mother must be watched every moment, just like a toddler; we see the daily exhaustion caretakers face. Before her illness, Annie's mother loved to paint. Although the disease has transformed her into a shadow of her former industrious self, it clearly hasn't suppressed her artistic nature. Annie's mom goes about her day carefully arranging balanced displays of small items she picks up around the house and yard and leaves them in unexpected places, as if trying to create order and beauty in the midst of her confusion.Annie is a talented photographer and writes touching entries about her mother's artful vignettes and posts pictures of them on her blog.I admire Annie for her steadfast devotion to her mother and resourcefulness in finding ways to keep her at home where she is most content. Annie raises alpacas and llamas for wool which she spins, dyes, and sells via her website to make ends meet. In addition to the wool products, I noticed she makes beautiful greeting cards that feature photographs she has taken on the farm over the past few years. Many have been digitally altered as effective line drawings.I hope you'll watch The Alzheimer's Project. Even if you aren't a subscriber of HBO, it's available On Demand or can be watched online in its entirety.