Offering Hope Through Art

The Joy in the Journey program at Aiken Center for the Arts (ACA) connects Aiken residents living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with a therapist who works with them to create an original painting. These beautiful and meaningful works of art are then placed on display in the ACA galleries and made available for purchase. Joy in the Journey paintings have been available in ACA galleries since 2017, with new paintings arriving monthly.

Joy in the Journey serves participants through a method called mneme (pronounced NEMMA) therapy, with a goal to provide a rewarding experience through everyday, pleasurable experiences to achieve whole brain synchronization and sustained attentive focus. This synchronization and focus in turn stimulates the brain’s abilities.

Creating Rewarding Experiences

Each session begins with the mneme therapist using everyday pleasures such as singing, painting, storytelling and praise in a unique combination to stimulate change in the brain and provide a rewarding experience for the artist. Through this therapy, memories can be stirred, giving each individual an opportunity to express oneself and a sense of accomplishment through the painting process.

The participant then puts on an apron, turns to the canvas, and, after the therapist places the color, he or she is guided on brushing left to right. With the therapist right at their side, the patient works background to foreground until a beautiful masterpiece has appeared. Each Joy in the Journey painter is rewarded with the wonder and sense of accomplishment of beholding their own creative expression.

Serving Patients and Their Loved Ones

Alzheimer’s and dementia affect not only the people suffering from these life-changing illnesses, but their families and caregivers. A key component of Joy in the Journey is the comfort it brings to those who witness their loved ones benefiting from these therapeutic sessions.

Madeline Fox, the daughter of one of Joy in the Journey’s participants, said about the program’s impact, “I was very fortunate to be able to watch my mother go through the process. She had always been talented at using her hands: sewing, making crafts, coloring with the grandchildren. Her dementia has taken that ability away but Joy in the Journey awakened that creative side of her. It was very emotional for me–in a very positive, happy way–it brought tears to my eyes.”

Continuing the Journey

Community support is crucial in our efforts to continue this meaningful program. Funding for Joy in the Journey goes directly toward art supplies, travel costs, instructor fees, and other necessary program costs.

Through your support of this program, you demonstrate a commitment to providing life-changing programming for community members and families suffering from the effects of Alzheimers and dementia. Your contributions will allow Aiken Center for the Arts to continue making Joy in the Journey available at no cost to program participants from all walks of life.