Health sciences library opens 'Spirit Lives On' dementia awareness exhibit

By Emory Libraries | Nov. 13, 2018


Elaine Justice

Holly Crenshaw

Photo of Edna Long wearing a yellow hood and apron with her cockatiel, Morgan. The caption on the photo reads, "Mom, Edna Long, cared for Morgan, our 10-year-old Cockatiel, for over a year in her assisted living apt. She was not allowed to keep her when she moved into 'memory care'...but Morgan 'visits' her frequently and she LOVES her as do all the other residents. Morgan is a sweet, calm bird whom seems to know she is giving Mom and other Alzheimer's residents much pleasure. Most of the residents have never held a bird and were thrilled with this 'different' pet therapy. This was a rainy day and because Mom doesn't get outside much I asked her if she'd like to go 'play in the rain'. She smiled her beautiful smile and nodded her head yes. It was perfect because Morgan loves the rain too. We had a lovely time. - Leslie Merriman, Photographer"

Photo of Edna Long with her cockatiel, Morgan, taken by her daughter and caregiver, Leslie Merriman. Click here to enlarge image.

A drawing of flowers in a jug by Sandra Haisten. The caption on the image reads: "Sandra loves flowers, so I bring cut flowers home regularly. This was an arrangement she recently put in a face jug. I supply...she arranges. - Harry Haisten, Caregiver and Sandra Haisten, Artist"

Drawing of flowers in a jug, by Sandra Haisten. Caregiver: Harry Haisten. Click here to enlarge image.

A painting with green and pink speckles and lines byAllenstine Willis. The caption reads: "We entered the art 'class' with the idea of trying something new. Mom seemed to like paint best. With some prompting she agreed to pick up a paintbrush and put color to the page. These are her efforts at painting creatively. - Monica Parker, Caregiver and Allenstine D. WIllis, Artist"

Painting by Allenstine D. Willis. Caregiver: Monica Parker. Click here to enlarge image.


These three pieces of artwork from “The Spirit Lives On” permanent exhibit at the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library were created by Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their caregivers at art and photography workshops. Images courtesy Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library.


The Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library has opened “The Spirit Lives On: Art and the Mind,” a new dementia awareness permanent exhibit.

The exhibit documents some of the photography and artwork aspects of “The Spirit Lives On: Art, Music and the Mind,” which used the arts to highlight and acknowledge the impact of dementing illness on the lives of members of the Emory community.

The three-part project, sponsored by the Emory University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Atlanta Master Chorale, took place between August 2015 and January 2016. The photography and painting portions of the project are displayed in this exhibit.

“The Spirit Lives On” sought to increase the community’s awareness of issues facing persons living with a dementing illness and their caregivers, with an emphasis on the particular prominence of the illnesses in the African American community.

The photography project was led by Thomas England, an Emory instructor and world-renowned photographer who has created portraits of presidents, famous musicians and numerous world leaders. It focused on dementia as a family disease and highlighted the family caregiving experience.

Spouses and adult children of individuals with dementia received cameras and were invited to four workshops that provided instruction on producing digital images and storytelling through photography. Ten photographs by eight participants are displayed in this exhibit.

Edna Bacon, an experienced art therapist, potter and Carlos Museum docent, led four sessions with five dementia patients and their caregivers. The sessions began in the galleries of the Carlos Museum, focusing on two or three objects, and they ended in the museum’s Tate Room where participants reflected and created their own artwork based on the objects they observed. Eight pieces of artwork by eight participants are featured in this part of the exhibit. 

“The Spirit Lives On” exhibit is located on the lower level of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library and can be viewed during regular library hours.