Student photo showcase gives perspectives on Alzheimer’s
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 31, 2023) — The University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information (CI) is hosting the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Photo Voice Showcase” a photo exhibition and reception featuring images taken by CI students which represent their perceptions and feelings about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, people living with dementia-related illnesses and their caregivers and family members.
The exhibition will be housed on the third floor of Lucille Little Fine Arts Library beginning April 4 and will remain on display until May 5. An opening reception for featured students, interested faculty and staff and the public will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in Room 310 of Little Library.
The photos featured are a result of a multi-phase research study by Elizabeth Spencer, assistant professor in the Department of Integrated Strategic Communication. During the study, Spencer, along with undergraduate research fellows and ISC students Kennedi Beam and Ashley Fisher, used a CI research survey to gather the photos.
Participants were asked to take three or more photographs that represent their perceptions and feelings about the experience of Alzheimer’s and related dementias and write a short caption for each image. Some students also took photos that represent their perceptions and feelings about the experience of caregiving for someone living with dementia. The photographs were asked to be of objects or scenes, with no recognizable faces or people.
Spencer and her team received over 1,600 images during the study. Thirty-two of these photos along with their accompanying captions will be on display at the exhibition.
Spencer, whose mother died of early-onset Alzheimer’s, says she conceived the project to highlight the perspectives and insights of individuals and families who have been impacted by this disease.
“As scholars, we aim for objectivity in our research. But, beyond pure data we can quantify, there are stories — the experiences of people who can no longer positively assert their own identities and the courage of families who become memory-bearers,” Spencer said. “These stories, the ‘photo voices’ of our students and community, are a testament to learning through subjective feeling — pain, as well as hope.”
Spencer said she hopes to have several more exhibitions based on data analysis from the project and emotional themes shown in the student photos, and she is looking for community partners and exhibit opportunities in order to showcase the images in local, regional and national exhibitions. To contact Spencer about an exhibition opportunity, click here.
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