Updegrove, a double major in both fields, visited Balanced Care Bloomsburg every Friday during the Spring 2015 semester and worked with speech therapist Carrie Vitko. She had Updegrove bring in original narrative portraitures, simple images of people that could create a story. The photographs were then shown to the elderly onset dementia patients at the assisted living center, where Vito would elicit the residents to talk.
Updegrove said the project helped the residents express themselves.
“The idea is to create a free flowing environment, instead of pulling out memories which can be painful,” she said. “It also gets them out and makes them feel like they are contributing to something.”
She said when she arrived at the beginning of a session the residents would be quiet and uncomfortable, but after the hour-long class they would feel more confident around others and feel open to express themselves.
In the art exhibit, you will see the original photograph, a poem or story that was created directly from the residents’ reactions, and then a second photograph to represent what was seen by the storytellers. The second photograph is a negative sandwich, a mixture of two different images, a medium Updegrove has enjoyed working with throughout her undergraduate career. The photos are laid together, then the exposure of light blends them together when they are put to paper with the darkroom chemicals. It’s not until the image is finalized that she would know what parts of an image would be visible in the finished photographic image.
Updegrove, a native of Carson City, Nevada, will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy at Drexel University in the fall. Storytelling will be on display until Friday, May 8.
--Jackie Sadock, College of Liberal Arts