Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alzheimer’s Iron Updated Abstract

The Alzheimer’s Iron Project has four main goals.
1. To create artwork with the elderly of the community who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
2. To produce and pour cast iron sculptures in response or homage to the artworks created.
3. To show and auction off the sculptures and paintings with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association.
4. To spread knowledge as well as educating individuals in the community about Alzheimer’s Disease, to teach volunteers to make art work with the elderly, and  to teach  people how to make a sculpture through the cast iron cupola process.

The first step of the project involves the Golden Years Club (a community service based gerontology club) facilitating the making of artwork in nursing homes and assisted living communities across the North East. Each two hour session provides lots of quality time between the care home resident and our friendly, trained club members (several club members are certified in the Memories in the Making program offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, in addition to three years of field experience).
Current research is concluding that “the human brain supports (perhaps thrives on) creative activity and certain types of creative challenges that may foster the repair and growth of brain structures and their attendants behaviors.”[i][i] Guided by principle, our "Elderly Artists" create paintings from red and black iron oxide and gesso.
The paintings created during our care home visits are passed to a metal artist (or person learning to cast). In response or homage to the elder’s artwork, a pattern is developed and a mold is made. The artists involved are provided with information about Alzheimer’s and the impact of this disease on the elderly individuals, their families and society.
Once the artist has sculpted their art out of wax or non drying clay, they rally together with others to perform a "cupola iron pour" (an ancient art form which melts iron in a furnace). The cupola pour is an amazing event - melding fire, food, molten metal, with hope and awareness.
We welcome and encourage the attendance of the community, students and members of the involved families, caregivers etc. The Alzheimer’s Iron project and cupola pours are a great meeting and mixing place where information about Alzheimer’s can be provided. "Pouring for a cause" is a wonderful opportunity for interaction and education.
After the pour, the cast iron artist will finish and patina (apply color) to their cast iron sculptures. The paintings and sculptures are shown together as the collaborative work of two artists. The sculptures will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association. The paintings go to the families to the Artists.
The pilot version of the Alzheimer’s Iron project took place at Alfred University Spring Semester 2013. Volunteers worked with the Elderly in Steuben and Allegany Counties and the metal work was produced at the National Casting Center Foundry, Alfred University. Over 13 successful sculptures were cast. They will be exhibited at the POUR HARD Cast metal show Halloween Weekend, and auctioned off in the spring.
There are plans for a "second chapter" of Alzheimer's Iron – the "Salem To Salem" project; artwork will be produced by the Elderly in Salem Massachusetts with sculptures being produced at Salem Art Works. Molds for the project will be cast at the International and Intercollegiate pours.
In addition the project will be returning to Alfred in the fall, with Alzheimer’s Glass and Iron. Where watercolors will be added into the art with the elderly session and glass will be added into the sculptural element of the project. There is also a nationwide continuous soap dish project running. In summer 2014, the Alzheimer’s Iron crew will pour metal on the longest day of the year  at the International Pour in Latvia, with a month of art with Latvian elderly leading up to the pour. Alzheimer’s Iron will then return to Salem Art Works for an extended chapter of the project called “Selma to Salem” in late summer 2014.

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