A special show recognizing Alzheimer’s Awareness month is open at the Salina Art Center.
In the Valley of the Shadow: Depicting Dementia features art by Anita Lehman from Bluffton, Ohio. A closing reception is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. December 7 in the Salina Art Center, 242 S. Santa Fe. The reception will feature brief remarks by Lehman at 6:15 p.m. The show runs through December 9.
Lehman created the series of paintings as a way to reflect on and respond to her brother-in-law’s experience with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Michael Yoder was diagnosed at the age of 58. Together with his wife Mary, family and friends, they made the journey through Alzheimer’s that ended with Mike’s death, July 30, 2018, one day before his 67th birthday.
“I’ve had a number of years now to think about the disease and its impact on our extended family. When we first became aware of his diagnosis, it seemed frivolous to paint anything other than dark, despairing images. As I worked, and as time passed, I framed questions to help me explore and create something beyond darkness,” Lehman said.
The original 12 paintings from In the Valley of the Shadow include images of fractured instruments and fragments of hymns. The theme of these images reflects the passion for music within the family. Later paintings in the series were in response to expressionistic line drawings done by Mike during his experience with the disease.
Lehman’s paintings have generated conversation with others.
“I have become aware that the experience of having a loved one with this Alzheimer’s is both individual and universal. I am grateful for the ways my visual exploration connects me to others on this journey,” she said.
The show is part of a larger project through the Salina Art Center reinforcing that art is a transformative and healing experience. A Lunch & Learn panel at noon on Wednesday will explore art in relation to dementia. Lunch is provided and people interested in attending should RSVP to Salina Art Center, 785-827-1431.
In the Valley of the Shadow and associated programming is partially funded by a grant from the YW Legacy fund at the Greater Salina Community Foundation. Additional sponsors include Presbyterian Manors of America, Salina and Dignity Care Home. Admission to the Art Center is free and galleries are open Wednesday – Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.