It is so exciting to have Art for the Journey and Scripps Gerontology Center - OMA program art on display at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine! We are honored to elevate the creative expression of our wonderful participants and so glad that the art is reaching medical students, faculty and staff from VTSOM and the public in the Roanoke region and beyond. The virtual exhibit not only displays the wonderful art pieces, but it also delves into the impact that Art for the Journey's programs have on participants.
The virtual exhibit is full of phenomenal art, heartwarming stories, and powerful testaments to our programs. Jennifer Austin from the Roanoke regional Jail described her program in Roanoke, "The inmates love it. The way I see it is part of my job is to help them battle boredom and frustration and possibly despair, and so offering them a way to express themselves is very very helpful... " Cindy Paullin describes how inmates at VCCW have said, "When I am in art class, I feel human again." Women in prison accessing artistic expression through our program helps them to self-reflect and to build self-confidence. Their art conveys the depth and complexity of their experiences and personalities, and as they build skills, they also find a way back to well-being. Executive Director Cindy Paullin says that "Somehow it (art programs) quiets the thoughts you have that you came in with and you enter into a place that's really pleasant."
The Veteran's program's features a perspective of an AFJ program participant who served ten years in the US Army, a liver transplant, and a stroke. Through the AFJ Veteran's art program, Milton has found confidence and self-satisfaction. During his first time participating with Art for the Journey, Milton expressed: "The art takes you through your mind, that's the main part so I don't focus on that outcome but more on what it does for me." Many of the veterans experience physical and mental health challenges; the art provides respite from difficult memories and painful experiences and allows veterans to walk away with confidence, self-esteem, and their very own completed piece of art.
Through the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) program, Art for the Journey facilitates a regular program for seniors with Dementia and Alzheimers and a Facilitator certification course.
Annette Clark and Taylor Lee from the Roanoke Alzheimer's Association discuss the ways to help loved ones with Dementia and Alzheimers; art-making is a dynamic piece of that.
Through the Scripps Gerontology "Opening Minds through Art" (OMA) program and by facilitating connections between volunteers and elders and providing abstract art projects, Art for the Journey is honored to be a part of easing the challenges of memory loss and eager to share the positive empirical results by helping to expand the OMA program across the State of Virginia. Dr. David Trinkle, the Associate Dean for Community and Culture at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, states that "creativity can really go a long way into easing calming and creating a nice environment and relationship with these patients especially in the early stages of their memory loss." Dr. Elizabeth Lokon, Founder of the OMA program said, "I found that art can connect us, because language and communication and the standard way of talking to each other often end up in dead ends, but when we do something together, make art together, it's through that, we can connect. Students then can learn how to be empathetic to people outside of their normal circle of friends and family."
Art for the Journey Founder and President Mark Hierholzer affirms that "Art making all by itself provides a certain amount of solace and perspective. Almost every artist that I know will tell me that their art is what keeps them happy or sane or stable or at peace in their lives, and has nothing to do with relationships necessarily; it's just the experience of art-making. And then what we do is offer the experience of art-making and paired with a sense of community which we try to develop with our teams of volunteers when we go into these various settings."
We invite you to attend the beautiful, enriching exhibit at Virginia Tech's Carilion School of Medicine virtual exhibit site.