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Alzheimer’s Through the Eyes of the Caregiver

Posted Sept. 10, 2013, at 4:40 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 28, 2013, at 1:49 p.m.
Don’t Let Go #1, Ceramic Sculpture, Jeff Spencer
Don’t Let Go #1, Ceramic Sculpture, Jeff Spencer
 Is This My Milk, Ceramic Cup Series, Mary K Spencer
Is This My Milk, Ceramic Cup Series, Mary K Spencer

GARDINER, Maine — September is Alzheimer Awareness Month and Monkitree will be opening “Is This My Milk?” on Sept. 27, showcasing the works of three artists who have recently experienced caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Mary K, Jeff and Denae Spencer express their feelings surrounding their experiences with Alzheimer’s in a range of media including: ceramics, photography, and sculpture.

Hands and question marks are recurring symbols in this body of work. Denae Spencer explains, “Many hands are needed to help daily, questions constantly arise…Is this the right thing to do? Who am I? What is your name?” Mary K Spencer has created a ceramic cup for each day her mother asked the question, “Is this my milk?” Over 400 cups represent each day she cared for her mother. “Taking care of my mother, who had Alzheimer’s was both a trying and wonderful experience,” Mary K explains, “One I would do again in a heartbeat. The artwork for this show reflects the trials, triumphs, and humor of my experience.”

Mary K Spencer has been a professional pottery since 1983. She honed her skills working for a production pottery studio in Maine. Mary K is skilled at painting with glazes on stoneware and creates several patterns of functional stoneware pottery. Jeff is a self-taught artist who has been working with Mary K from the time they opened their very first pottery studio. His pieces in this show incorporate the mediums he enjoys working in- wood, iron and clay. He has collected iron from old barns and home sites where he has done restoration work. Denae is a senior art student at UMA and is an assistant in her parent’s pottery studio. Growing up in an art world, Denae has experienced many different types of art, but mainly focuses on digital art, and ceramics. Her experience with care giving allowed her to focus on the therapeutic and healing qualities of art. She now plans to focus on Art Therapy in her future studies.

As Jeff explains, “This journey brought many emotions- compassion, joyfulness, hopefulness, concern, sadness, and anger. One emotion that will never be forgotten is to be truly humbled. This blessing will never leave my experience.” The emotions experienced have inspired this family of artists to honor their loved one and share the range of their experience in this body of work. Monkitree will donate 10% of the sales of artwork the night of the opening on September 27th to Alzheimer’s Care Center Adult Day Care.

Monkitree is located at 263 Water Street in Historic Downtown Gardiner. The public is invited to meet the artists at a reception from 5:30-9pm on September 27th. The opening coincides with Walking the Beat, an evening of music in downtown Gardiner. Monkitree will be hosting acoustic guitar player Tom Douglas.

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