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Vol. 16 No. 1 (2022): Drawing and Loss

Drawing and Memory Loss: Mapping and Recording the Journey Through Alzheimer's Disease

19 October 2020


While drawing has become a more common tool in art therapies for patients suffering debilitating diseases, it is not commonly seen as a means of tracing cognitive and memory deterioration in dementia patients. In this paper I examine the role of drawing documenting the experiences of two artists with Alzheimer’s disease. Although the patients have different proficiencies, the act of drawing allows them to express their thoughts and emotions, recording their physical and mental decline and inexorable memory loss. Discussing ethical issues around the use of artworks made by people suffering from dementia, I note the importance of giving individuals opportunities to document their life with Alzheimer’s disease. In the act of making images they are able to communicate and share something of their world and be comforted that they continue to share experiences with those around them, even as their faculties falter and fail.