'Hidden Wonders' Exhibit Gives Dementia Patients Art Outlet


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 18, 2016) — "Hidden Wonders: Artworks from the Visual Arts Study" gives art patrons a chance to see how the visual arts can benefit patients of dementia with a new exhibition of work by participants in a University of Kentucky study. The exhibit, running through April 21, on the second floor of UK's new Art and Visual Studies Building, is free and open to the public.

Dementia is a decline of cognitive health that interferes with everyday life. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most recognizable form of dementia, but many other conditions can also affect cognitive health. There is no cure for AD, and almost all patients with dementia eventually require constant care from a caregiver or loved one. In 2015, there were 5.3 million Americans suffering from this devastating disease.

Beginning this past February, Ann Christianson-Tietyen and Allan Richards, researchers and art education faculty at UK School of Art and Visual Studies, have been looking at how the visual arts can have a positive effect on patients who suffer from mild to moderate dementia. The study also includes patient caregivers.

In the creation of art, multiple aspects of learning take place and multiple domains related to learning are engaged, including focus and concentration, problem-solving skills, tolerance to ambiguity, image and concept formation, imagination, and visual-spatial thinking. In addition, feelings and emotional sensitivities are involved in producing a work of art, as well as important motor skills like hand-eye coordination.


By having study participants create art — painting, ceramics and collage — the researchers hope to enhance problem solving skills, focus/concentration and hand-eye coordination for patients. They also hope to see an improvement in mood and in overall thinking, which would contribute significantly to quality of life.

The UK study was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Alzheimer's Disease Centers. The grant funded the implementation of an eight-week program for groups of 12 (six individuals with dementia and their partner caregivers) to participate in different types of visual arts activities, such as painting, sculpture or watching slideshow movies.

Christianson-Tietyen and Richards will present a second program in the fall starting Sept. 10, 2016. Those who are interested may contact Allan Richards at 859-361-1483 or Ann Christianson-Tietyen at 859-312-4553.

The UK School of Art and Visual Studies at the UK College of Fine Arts is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of art studio, art history and visual studies and art education.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue


MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716; whitney.hale@uky.edu