It is towards the beginning my visit to MoMA that I missed the critical companionship of the women I had wandered round the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton Massachusetts with. “Let Art Touch You” is the museum’s strap line. These women knew how. We’re back to driving on the Los Angeles freeways at night in the rain stuff –pure ‘in the moment’.
I had flown up to Boston and taken the commuter train out through the wooded New England landscape. I was the guest of the Artists for Alzheimer’s Project, ARTZ.
“I’m just an ordinary person”, introduced the woman sitting beside me in the gallery. And then she and her companions proceeded to give an extra-ordinary interpretation of the art works hanging in front of us on the wall. We are gazing into the abstract world of the artist Yanic Lapuh. His works slide between painting and sculpture: Synergy 23, 2010, hardly a clue in the title:
“Would that be a man swimming in water? He is thinking about it. He’s jumping for joy. It’s affecting his brain because he’s right up there. He’s pretty happy, jumping for joy. The children would like that. He jumped into the water and everything splashed up. It’s wonderful that people can do things like that. I think there’s an awful lot in that one.”
Just sitting and looking and experiencing the work in the company of these women is unexpectedly exhilarating.
The museum visit is part of a weekly programme that is run by the Boston based ARTZ programme. The programme supports interactive museum and gallery visits by people who have Alzheimer’s and their care givers. It has been running since 2003 when ARTZ initially developed the concept at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City “Meet Me at MoMA…and Make Memories. Currently in the Massachusetts area there are five Museums and galleries who are engaged in the programme. It’s such an ordinary and special event, challenging the fiction that Alzheimers could spell the end of your publically engaged self: you can still connect and engage with things happening about you. You can still be recognised and valued. You can still contribute.
MoMA now run their programme independently of ARTZ. They like ARTZ have made the concepy international. Leaving MoMA, back in New York I visit the book shop and ask for a copy of the ‘Meet Me at MoMA’ publication. ‘For technical reasons’ the book, although in print is not easily available. The book about access is not accessible. Maybe still a little way to go. Progress in small steps.