Portraits and Promises in Alzheimer's Disease art exhibit

10/25/2007 | By: Staff Report  |

Throughout November the University of Nevada School of Medicine will display the works of American artist William Utermohlen who chronicled his descent into dementia with a series of self-portraits. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1995, the exhibit depicts Utermohlen's terror and isolation after first learning of his diagnosis while his later portraits show little more than just traces of the once creative and talented artist.

"The School of Medicine is incredibly proud to be able to bring such a moving and fascinating exhibit to Reno," says Marin Gillis, Ph.D., Director of Medical Humanities. "William Utermohlen's self-portraits give a rare glimpse into the mind of an Alzheimer's patient and provide caregivers a unique perspective on how arts programs can be therapeutic for patients."

Utermohlen's self-portraits poignantly and powerfully depict his journey living with Alzheimer's disease. The exhibition showcases later works where one can see the artist's attempts to stay connected to the world around him while he loses the ability to communicate in other ways. His work remains a testimony to the creative and human spirit that resides in all people living with dementia.

The exhibit is free to the public and open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November 2 through November 20 at the School of Medicine's Pennington Medical Education Building gallery located on the north end of the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Guided tours will be provided by gerontology students to caregivers, healthcare professionals, the University community and other interested parties. To schedule a tour, call (775) 682-8393.

"Portraits and Promises in Alzheimer's Art" is made possible by a grant from the Nevada Arts Council and Nevada Humanities. Three companion evening lecture events will be held November 1, 2 and 15.

The first event, hosted by the dean of the medical school and the Northern Nevada Alzheimer's Association, will provide an advanced viewing of the exhibit in the Pennington foyer. A cocktail reception and gallery viewing will be held November 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event will also feature national speakers Rhonda Soricelli, M.D., chair of the medicine and the arts section at Philadelphia College of Physicians, and David Flood, Ph.D., professor of literature at Drexel University. Tickets to this first event are $25 with proceeds benefiting future arts in medicine programming sponsored by the School of Medicine. An RSVP for the panel discussion is required and may be directed to (775) 682-8393.

The second event, on November 2, will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Pennington Room 16 (downstairs) and is sponsored by the School of Medicine, Northern Nevada Alzheimer's Association and the University's Sanford Center on Aging. The event will include a panel discussion on creativity and the brain with Soricelli, Flood and John Peacock, M.D., professor of internal medicine and neurology at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served immediately following the discussion and an RSVP to (775) 682-8393 is advised.

The third event, held on November 15, will be hosted by the SAGE Consortium of the College of Health and Human Sciences with partners from the School of Public Health, Division of Human Development and Family Studies, Gerontology Academic Program, Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy and the University's Department of Psychology. This event will include a lecture on Alzheimer's caregiving by Steve Rubin, M.D., a local geriatric psychiatrist; Jill Berryman, executive director of the Sierra Arts Foundation, who is herself a caregiver of a family member with Alzheimer's; Jerry Gingold, M.D., a gerontologist and Jane Fisher, Ph.D., executive director of the Nevada Caregiver Support Center. The lecture will be held in Pennington Room 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.


For more news on the University of Nevada, Reno, follow @unevadareno on Twitter.

Get Nevada Today in your Inbox!