Welcome to Artecura!

For our English speaking visitors, we would like to introduce a special art work, which contents elements of art therapy as a project of two weeks and of experimental art, trying to find an expression by the intense but subtle and mostly nonverbal dialogue between demented people and us.

Please, feel free to look at the links beside, where you can find pictures and paintings, which show more about our work in old people´s homes. We focus on the art-dialogue with people suffering from dementia. Claudia Büeler draws their portrait und then themselves and their companions, relatives and carers color the portrait. Out comes an interesting collection of paintings, that has the potential of deepening our little understanding on what and how demented people perceive. For further information and photos, please, click: album or contact directly via e-mail:
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Witness of encounter
by C. Bueler, 2004
     
         
Ausstellung  

People who suffer from dementia are very intimidated by their disorientation and their negative emotions. The successive loss of conscience leads to aggressions and depression, and there seems to be no way to deactivate these, due to the fact that the person is unable to relate to things. The patient loses the capacity to make the connection between things. Frequently, they remain stuck to a „clue“ for hours. This demonstrates how difficult it is to let go when there is nothing to hold on to and no deep rooted trust.

Art therapy works with creativity, with letting go and allowing to create. The authentic self-expression happens effortlessly out of its own accord and without a pre-established aim. Subsequently, it can reflect the person like a mirror image and act upon them. In demented people, the parts of the human personality, form, creativity, emotion, perception and the conscience that joins all these, increasingly fall apart. At some stage, the only thing that remains is a vague memory of a long gone capacity to comprehend and memories of situations and emotions that arise, but the person can’t relate to them any more. There seems to be no possibility to „tidy up“ or to process things. Additionally, they have great difficulties in making contact with the outer world. Everything they are left with is the moment they are living and the incapacity to place it within a context. This is difficult to grasp for us. We are often helpless when we realise we are unable to do much to relieve the old people from their long established conditions. The project with portraits developed out of such a moment of helplessness. Only as I started drawing the old people, I realised that while doing so I had an opportunity to practise for them while being close to them. Here I had a chance to apply spontaneously and directly the things I was teaching myself at home through imagination.

While I draw portraits of faces of people who no longer know anything about themselves, the same people go through profound moments without making a judgement about it. When I am well prepared, I can now feel that my patient is open and curious. Suddenly they emerge from their hardened track! All that happens is that the intensive moments become longer. It is true what my teachers say: relief from confusion, love and trust, happiness and compassion come with practise and reflect upon the surrounding. It isn’t in my hands. I draw. After returning into the perceivable world, the portrait remains as the only witness of this deep encounter.

To my great surprise this was only the beginning! Later it became a project which I am now leading professionally in old people’s homes, because it can be explained with different positive characteristics for our society. Through the drawing process a contact with the demented person is established, which can surpass the concept of time. The portrayed person makes an „inexplicable“ contact with the portrait (which he/she sometimes only seconds later fail to identify as such).  In the second working phase I offer the patients the possibility to add colours to their portraits, which enables me to apply the therapeutic principles of art therapy. The parts of personality that remain „functionable“ connect. It is possible to observe how through the drawing and painting of portraits old people enter a dialogue with each other as well as with themselves. Verbal or nonverbal, consciously or unconsciously ... they are doing something new, something different, they react, they express themselves. They develop (at least for a short moment) their abilities, increase their self esteem and dignity, relax and let go.

Sometimes I draw people who hardly move anymore; unthinkable moments can happen. Naturally, these people don’t enter the second phase with me, but they are nevertheless part of the community they are living in. Once somebody died while I was working on one of these projects. In spite of this fact, I decided to put up the person’s portrait for the others to colour in. Weeks passed and nobody seemed to remember the face, when an Alzheimer patient came to me and indignantly pointed to the picture: „The colours, that is not appropriate!“

You never know what our conscience is still able to grasp; painted pictures can give very practical hints and stimulate interaction. To motivate people, it seems important to me to respond to their emotional level.
 
         
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